Mother of UConn student killed by fire department vehicle speaks

A vigil will be held for her on campus on Tuesday at 7 p.m.


STORRS, Conn. (WTNH)– To her siblings, family, and friends, and the many people she enjoyed helping, Jeffny Pally was always there.

“To anybody who needs love, she’s there,” said her mother, Shiny Chemmarapally.

“When she juggled so many things in her life, I said, ‘Jeffny, you have to take a break.’ She said, ‘Mama, life is too short. I have no time. I have to do it all.”

On Sunday, the 19-year-old UConn student was struck and killed outside the back bay door of the university fire department. Now, her mother clings to her rosary beads to get through her day.

“I have the rosary in my hand. I can’t put it down. For some reason, when I keep it down I tremble. So this is the only thing that’s holding me, right now, is the rosary power,” she said.

State police said Jeffny was leaning against a UConn fire department bay door at around 1 a.m. on Sunday.

Related: UConn student killed by university fire vehicle

“They opened the bay doors, exited, and responded to the call,” said Trooper Kelly Grant of the Connecticut State Police. “On the return, they found the body of a deceased female laying in front of the bay.”

Her family and friends question that story. They are all retracing her steps.

“You’re not gonna stop in front of the police station,” said Jerrin Cherian, a family friend. “That’s the last place a UConn student is going to sit.”

“We know she was studying in the library and then we know that she spoke to her cousin and she Snapchatted at 12:30,” said Chemarappally. “So between that time – a half an hour – what happened? There’s a huge gap.”

As the investigation continues, her family is trying to find comfort in the memory of her smile, and the lives she touched through her church and her work with the Special Olympics. They also hope that someday they’ll know what happened.

“The only thing I want to know now is the truth,” said Chemarappally. “The truth maybe ugly, but I don’t care. I just want to know the truth because now they’re making different stories.”

A vigil will be held for her on campus on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Fairfield Way on the Storrs campus.

The wake for Jeffny Pally will be held Wednesday from 6-9pm at St. Timothy’s Church at 1116 North Main Street in West Hartford. The funeral will be held Thursday at 10am at St. Timothy’s Church.

There are grief counselors available on campus, and not just for students, either, but think of the firefighters who came back from that emergency call to find that one of their vehicles had accidentally hit a student.

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