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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


The UA mourns the loss of a family member, sister and friend

Darien Bakas
Over 100 people gathered on the UA Mall on Tuesday, Jan. 19 to mourn the death of Zoey Zalusky. Zalusky, a sister of the Sigma Kappa sorority, passed away due to unknown causes on Christmas Eve and was able to donate her vital organs on Christmas Day, saving the lives of three people.

Tragic news broke during the holidays of UA sophomore Zoey Zalusky’s death due to an unknown cause.

She was a pre-nursing major and a member of the Zeta Omicron chapter of the Sigma Kappa sorority on campus.

Zalusky was found unconscious on her bathroom floor in the Hub at Tucson apartment building on Dec. 15. She was taken to the Banner—Health University Medical Center Tucson, and was placed into a medically induced coma to prevent further damage and swelling to the brain.

She remained on life support through the duration of her medically induced coma, and on Dec. 23, she was pronounced brain dead. Zalusky died on Dec. 24.

Sigma Kappa president, Taylor Brown, said doctors are unsure of the cause of death, but believe it may have been caused by a blood clot found in her lungs. There were no drugs or alcohol involved.

Jordan Gaylor, a junior studying retail and consumer sciences, is Zalusky’s big sister, or mentor, within the sorority. She explained that Zalusky had a doctor’s appointment the morning she was found.

“She told her parents she wasn’t feeling well the day before, so her mom made her a doctor’s appointment for the following morning,” Gaylor said. “They hadn’t heard from her so they sent her sister over to go look, and the Hub [employees] let her in.”

Mariah Zanotti, a family studies and human development sophomore, was one of Zalusky’s roommates, and has since moved out of the unit after Zalusky’s death.

“It’s barely starting to feel real,” Gaylor said.

Gaylor explained it was difficult to grasp because she usually wouldn’t see her during break, but it became more real when she went to send Zalusky a text or snapchat.

“It’s just been really hard for everyone to cope with it; it’s even hard to talk about it right now for some of the women,” Brown said. “I think we are going to grow from it eventually, because I know it is hard right now, we have seen tragedy in the past, but I feel like we will be able to take this situation and turn it around from such a tragic event.”

Zalusky’s closest friends have set up a donation site through Tilt to raise money for the family’s medical bills.

The women of Sigma Kappa have helped promote the Tilt fund, as well as send flowers and support cards to the Zalusky family in Texas.

“I noticed a lot of fraternities have donated to the Tilt that we made,” Kory Baez, an engineering freshman, said.

Zalusky added Baez to their Sigma Kappa family as her little sister this past semester.

Over $5,000 has been donated to the fundraising site, and Brown explained that the greek community has been extremely supportive.

Students across campus have mourned the loss of their friend and sister, but Zalusky, nonetheless, left an impact on those who had the pleasure of crossing paths with her. Zalusky was able to saves lives through donating her liver, heart and kidneys to three people on Christmas Day.

Baez, Gaylor, and Zanotti all chuckled to each other when asked how they would describe Zalusky.

“Sassy,” Baez said immediately.

All friends made it known that Zalusky was always in charge of the music, and it was very apparent that she would be the DJ of the night.

“She was loud,” Zanotti added.

Memorial speeches were filled with memories of their time with their dear friend.

Zalusky’s grandparents, older sister and hundreds of students gathered to remember and celebrate her life. Tears were shed, laughs were had, but as Wildcats, they stand together.

Follow Devon Walo on Twitter

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