CARLSBAD — A recent Carlsbad High School alumna and Purdue University junior died Sunday from injuries sustained during an accident, according to West Lafayette (Ind.) Police.
Katie Cruz, 20, passed out at 2:30 p.m. after “suffering a previous injury,” according to media reports. She was transferred to a hospital in Indianapolis where Cruz was pronounced dead, the Marion County Coroner’s office confirmed Wednesday.
The cause and manner of death have not yet been confirmed. No foul play is suspected.
“We are saddened any time we experience a student’s death and offer our condolences and support to Katie’s family and friends,” Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Students Dr. Katie Sermersheim said in a statement.
After graduating from Carlsbad High School in 2019, Cruz enrolled at Purdue majoring in biochemistry. She was also a member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority.
In fall 2018, Cruz, along with two others, became the first student representatives to sit on the Carlsbad Unified School District board of trustees, as previously reported by The Coast News.
While they didn’t have official votes on board policy, Cruz and the other students participated in meetings, provided updates of school happenings and gained insight into operations of the board and school district.
“The person they were describing was involved in a lot of different activities on campus, speaking in front of people and had an interest in sitting in on board meetings,” Cruz said of what drew her to apply in a 2018 interview. “All three of those categories fit me. I thought it would be a good fit.”
Cruz’s best friend, Nina Accardi, posted a message on Instagram expressing her appreciation for their friendship and all the memories they shared. Accardi recalled memories of singing along with Cruz in the car, laughing and crying.
For Accardi, Cruz was an inspiration and one of her biggest motivators — her favorite person to call after a long day.
“I can’t put into words how much love I had for you, and how unfair this situation is,” Accardi wrote on Instagram. “I’m so proud of everything you accomplished, and the future you should’ve has as a doctor. Rest easy angel. I love you forever.”
Cruz’s boyfriend, Conner MacGray, also posted a loving tribute to his late love expressing how her presence will be missed every day. He said their relationship kept his life exciting and engaging, living up to Cruz’s philosophy of making the most out of every day.
He also reminisced about the places, people and adventures they shared, thus making her short life an extraordinary one.
“Words can only do so much but it is clear how many cared deeply about Katie and myself,” MacGray said. “Katie will be missed, but the memories she gave us can never be taken away.”
Catherine Allen contributed reporting to this story.