March 27, 2006

Freshman Dies of Alcohol Poisoning

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Matthew Pearlstone ’09 was found dead in a University of Virginia dorm room on March 17. The state coroner ruled the death accidental, resulting from alcohol poisoning.

At around 11 that morning, Pearlstone’s body was discovered by a residential advisor in a bed in Cauthen residence hall on the UVA campus. Pearlstone was transported to the University Health Center, and then to the state medical examiner’s office in Richmond for an autopsy. The UVA campus police contacted the St. Louis Police Department, which then notified Pearlstone’s family.

Pearlstone was visiting a friend at UVA during Cornell’s spring break. According to UVA’s newspaper, the Cavalier Daily, Pearlstone visited the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity for part of the night before he died. He was then escorted back to Cauthen residence hall by his friend, a Sig Ep pledge. Howard Pearlstone, Matthew’s grandfather, told the Associated Press his grandson had been out “partying” the night before.

“The whole Cornell community [is] going to be very saddened by this news,” said Simeon Moss ’73, the Cornell press relations office director. “We send our sincere condolences to Matthew’s family and close friends and they’re in our thoughts.”

Moss said that community support meetings and counseling services will be available to the Townhouse community, where Pearlstone lived, and students in the College of Engineering.

Carol Wood, UVA’s assistant vice president for university relations, said, “The university community was terribly saddened to learn of the death of a student. Our priority is to reach out to students and his friends here. We all grieve when we lose one of our students.”

Wood said that counseling and support services had also been made available to students living in Cauthen residence hall and those who knew Pearlstone on the UVA campus.

Pearlstone’s friends remembered his intelligence and willingness to help others.

“He could fix circuits – he pretty much single-handedly wired our townhouse theater system – and if anyone had homework problems he always seemed to have the answers,” said Kyle Hansen ’09, Pearlstone’s roommate. “He was a good kid and it was not time for him to go.”

Jaydev Mahadevan ’09, who attended high school with Pearlstone, called him “one of the most intelligent kids I knew.” Mahadevan continued, “[Pearlstone] was an intense and opinionated person, and that was why he was interesting to talk to.”

Dan Maloney Hahn, senior academic advisor in the College of Engineering, said in a statement, “He was an excellent student.”

Pearlstone, who was a computer science and electrical engineering major at Cornell, was originally from St. Louis. He was a member of the Cornell University Autonomous Underwater Vehicle club and was named to the Dean’s List. Before graduating from Ladue Horton Watkins High School, he was a marathon runner, captain of the swim team and a member of the varsity water polo team. He was also an honor student, a National Merit finalist and a National AP Scholar.

A funeral service was held Thursday in St. Louis. Donations can be made to the Matt Pearlstone Scholarship Fund, c/o Ladue High School, 1201 South Warson Road, St. Louis, Mo., 63124. A memorial service is planned to be announced later this week.

Archived article by Sun Staff