A young Tulane University student was tragically killed in a freak accident while at a rest stop in Mississippi.
On Tuesday, 21-year-old Margaret Maurer from Forest Lake, Minnesota, was taking a restroom break during her spring break road trip with friends when she was suddenly struck by a pair of flying tires that came loose from a passing 18-wheeler, Biloxi Sun Herald reported.
Maurer was walking back to her car when the tires — which were bolted together and weighed roughly 500 pounds — entered the parking lot area from Interstate 10 eastbound near Gautier.
The tires traveled about 850 feet before hitting her, according to the Gautier Police Department, ABC News reported. She was pronounced dead at the scene. No one else was injured.
“It’s traumatizing of course for the young ladies that were there and the family,” Capt. Casey Baxter of the Gautier Police Department told ABC News. “It’s heartbreaking for everybody. She was truly a victim.”
It is not immediately clear as to how the tires broke free from the trailer.
Following the incident, the truck driver, who has been identified as a driver for Dana Transports, Inc., turned around to see what happened. Police said they suspect no wrongdoing on the driver’s part, Sun Herald reported.
Maurer was a senior at Tulane, where she studied ecology and evolutionary biology.
Tulane’s president Mike Fitts spoke out on Maurer’s tragic death describing her as an “extraordinarily gifted student and a leader among her peers,” adding that “she was planning to graduate in May to pursue a career in scientific illustration — a field that combined her sill as a scientist, her incredible artistic talent and her love of nature.”
Maurer’s professor, Thomas Sherry, paid tribute to the late student, calling her a “go-getter.”
In addition to getting to know Maurer academically, Sherry bonded with her on an artistic level as Maurer drew illustrations for his independent book project on birds.
“They’re just spectacular, they’re beautiful,” Sherry told ABC News. “At the very least… we have this incredible memorial to her that I hope to use in various ways to shine a light on what an outstanding student she was.”
Sherry added, “She was a really special person, so it’s all the more painful. I don’t get to know every student as well as I do Meg.”
Maurer’s mother, Tracy Nelson Maurer, also opened up about her daughter’s death telling KSTP, “I really want to be angry at somebody, but I can’t be. It just happened. It’s absolutely a random, freaky thing. It’s not right. There’s so much that’s wrong about this, but it’s just random.”
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