College mourns sudden loss of McCrae Williams ’21

McCrae Williams ’21 had plans to play lacrosse at Lafayette. (McCrae Williams’ public Facebook page).

McCrae Williams ‘21 was on the cusp of starting his third week at college, with plans to join the lacrosse team. He was a recruit for the program. Williams was only on campus for a short time, but Tim Barry ’20 already saw him enjoying his time at the college and walking around with a “smile that could light up a room,” he wrote in an email.

“He was truly a happy guy and it seemed like he was really enjoying his first few weeks here,” he wrote. “He was an incredibly passionate person and a devoted leader. On the [lacrosse] field at Nobles, he was a fierce competitor and an excellent role model for all who he played with,” he wrote.

Barry and Williams both graduated from Nobles and Greenough School, a Massachusetts boarding school.

Before he could realize his ambitions at Lafayette, Williams died Monday from “blunt force head injuries,” according to the Lehigh County Coroner.

Williams, 19, was taken to the hospital on Sunday afternoon. Lafayette Public Safety officers responded to the scene outside Ruef Hall and found Williams unconscious, according to a report in the Morning Call. He had “no obvious signs of trauma” prior to his autopsy, the coroner stated.

Authorities said “a chain of events” which investigators believe began Saturday led to Williams’ death, the report continued, and the coroner is waiting on toxicology reports and completion of the investigation to determine manner of death.

According to LehighValleyLive, alcohol use is being investigated in relation to Williams’ death. The last student to die due to alcohol use on campus was Everett Glenn, who died after heavy drinking while celebrating his birthday in 2012.

A vigil was held Tuesday night in memory of Williams. Chaplain Alex Hendrickson spoke on the steps of Farinon, while the crowd in front of her grew larger.

Stretching from end to end of the front of Farinon and pouring into the quad, students who knew him and students who didn’t gathered together to, as Hendrickson put, “be just that—together.”

President Alison Byerly spoke shortly after Hendrickson, encouraging students to lean on one another in this time of mourning.

“He had already become a part of the community and that community [is] going to mourn his loss,” Byerly said.

Hendrickson invited students to stay and comfort each other, either talking to friends or people they didn’t know. Some students stayed with each other for at least a half hour after the conclusion of Byerly’s speech.

Byerly acknowledged in a campus-wide email that the loss particularly affects the freshman class at a time where they are starting college careers.

“Losing a member of the Class of 2021 is a heartbreaking start to the year for our newest students in particular,” she wrote.

Byerly wrote in an email to The Lafayette that this recent loss compounds others that the Lafayette community has faced.

“I know that this is very hard for the community, especially given other recent losses. We will do all we can to support students, and I encourage students to be in touch with the Counseling Center, the Chaplain’s Office, the deans, or other offices that stand ready to help,” she wrote.

Williams’ death marks the fifth loss of a Lafayette student in the last year and a half. Sarah Bramley ’19, Joey Towers ’18, Amanda Miner ’18 and Joe Kirkpatrick ’19 passed away last academic year.

Director of communications and promotions for the athletics department Scott Morse wrote in an email that interim head coach for men’s lacrosse Ed Williams is “not accepting interview requests at this time.”

About Kathryn Kelly

Kathryn Kelly '19 is the editor-in-chief of The Lafayette. She studies government & law and Classics with a minor in economics.

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