Mila Rainof MED ’08, 27, dies after being hit by car

Less than one day after being struck by a car near the Yale School of Medicine campus, Mila Rainof MED ’08 died Sunday morning at Yale-New Haven hospital. She was 27.

The Santa Monica, Calif., native had likely been exercising at the Harkness Dormitory at 367 Cedar St. prior to the accident. On her way back to her York Street apartment at 9:45 a.m. Saturday, Rainof was hit by a vehicle at the intersection of South Frontage Road and York Street.

“Yale feels terrible; it’s very rare that a medical student dies while at such a crucial period in their life,” School of Medicine Dean Robert Alpern said. “It was very tragic that she died at such a young age so suddenly. We’ve all been stunned all weekend.”

Rainof received both a bachelor’s degree of the arts and a bachelor’s degree in the sciences from Stanford University in 2003. The fourth-year medical student was set to begin her residency in California at Alameda County Medical Center’s Highland General Hospital Department of Emergency Medicine this fall.

On Saturday morning, a large truck pulling out of a nearby hospital loading dock obstructed Rainof’s view of oncoming traffic on South Frontage Road, Assistant Dean for Medical School Student Affairs Nancy Angoff said. Shortly after the truck pulled away, the light turned green and Rainof ran to avoid traffic, she said.

Two sport utility vehicles at the front of the intersection were able to swerve around Rainof, but the driver of a sports car directly behind the SUVs, whose view of the street was blocked, accelerated in order to get into the left lane onto the highway. In the process, the car hit her “with a good bit of force,” Angoff said although she said she did not know the speed at which the car was moving.

Rainof was hit so hard that she flipped in the air and landed on her head, Angoff said. She incurred serious head injuries at the scene.

After being rushed to Yale-New Haven Hospital, Angoff said, doctors transferred Rainof to the neural intensive care unit and tried desperately to ease swelling around her brain. Rainof remained alive overnight, but neurologists who arrived the next morning pronounced her brain dead.

In keeping with their daughter’s commitment to helping and saving others, Rainof’s parents chose to have her organs salvaged for donation, Angoff said.

After the hospital performs an autopsy, Angoff added, Rainof’s parents plan to have their daughter cremated and the ashes brought back to California.

Students living in the area described the intersection as “dangerous” and traffic in the area as reckless.

University spokesman Tom Conroy told the News on Sunday afternoon that Rainof’s parents had been informed of the accident by the University. Her parents and boyfriend, who were at the hospital overnight Saturday, could not be reached for comment Sunday evening.

City Hall spokeswoman Jessica Mayorga said Saturday that the New Haven Police Department would release further details about the incident Monday.

A Saturday-afternoon press release stated that the NHPD’s accident-investigation team “will be interviewing the driver and witnesses” to the incident.

“This is a tragic loss for all of us who came to know her and admire her and love her over the four years that she was here,” Angoff said. “She was a wonderful student and friend to students and she will be grieved and missed by faculty, staff and students — it will be a very difficult time for the graduating class to come to terms with her loss.”

The University plans to hold a community meeting today for the medical school and Yale-New Haven Hospital communities to assist friends with the grieving process.


  • concerned Yalie

    Sadly, these accidents just remind us about how the Yale and New Haven police have their priorities completely out of whack. Maybe instead of trying to bust underage kids at bars or distributing parking tickets the police should actually monitor the neighborhoods around Yale and ensure that drivers are following traffic regulations? I'm always amazed at the speeding and poor driving I see on N and S Frontage roads. The police would make a fortune in just an hour of monitoring either of those roads - hey, it might even turn out to be as profitable as collecting parking tickets and towing cars.

  • Anonymous

    new haven drivers are terrible. the absolute worst drivers ive seen in 6 cities and 4 countries ive lived in. theyre speed demons and law breakers. the area in and around yale from frontage road to temple between td and silliman are absolutely hellish. its a wonder why more students and members of the general public are not hit and injured. yale police and city cops need to better monitor the traffic situation in this area.

  • Anonymous

    Speed bumps on N Frontage Road would go a long way to making this intersection a bit safer.. the traffic, trucks especially, uses the block before this intersection as a launching ramp to get up to highway speed upon entrance to the connector.

  • Anonymous

    These incidents are all too common on N and S Frontage Roads. Why do we have to hear about another one each year? Why can't the city do a better job to protect our safety?

  • Anonymous

    I am so sorry to report that Mila has passed away this morning. My deepest condolences to her family and loved ones… rest in peace, Mila.

  • med student

    perhaps michael piscitelli, the director of new haven's dept. of transportation, traffic, and parking, should hear these concerns. please inundate him with email at:

  • Anonymous

    Why doesn't NHPD enforce traffic laws? Oh, because the city doesn't get the fines from traffic violations. Those go straight to the state, unlike parking tickets (which is why the city enforces those so scrupulously). Since the city of New Haven is obviously incompetent and broke, it's up to YALE to put pressure, even put up money, to enforce the traffic laws and fix the dangerous intersections. That would be a serious investment in students and employees' safety. Temple and Grove? Elm and York? just wait, someone will die there soon enough.


    If the driver had been going the speed limit, 25MPH, it is not likely that Mila would have died. Very few people hit at 20-25MPH die, that is why the speed limit in our city is set at 25 in most places. When people are hit at 30 or 35MPH, they are basically guaranteed to die. It is basic physics.

    If it is found that the driver of the sports car was traveling even 1MPH above the posted speed limit, he or she should be tried for murder and sent to prison for 20 years. We need to rigorously enforce the speed limit, and one way to do that is to try speeders as felons if they kill or injure anyone while speeding.

    Also for the above reason, citywide speed limits should be reduced from 25MPH to 20MPH.

    Yale-New Haven Hospital is supposed to be an institution dedicated to saving lives. How come they don't care that people are being hit and killed around their hospital facility? They could easily pressure the city and state for traffic calming if they wanted to. The maximum speed on the streets surrounding the hospital and the university need to be reduced to 10MPH through speed bumps and better road design.


    Just over a month ago, this was posted in response to a YDN article on the "Aggressive Panhandler:"

    #7 By alum (Unregistered User) 11:56am on March 5, 2008

    25000 people get an email from Perrotti after a minor incident like this, but when a student gets hit by a car on Chapel Street and sent to the hospital for an entire month, nobody on campus is aware. The YPD has its priorities all wrong.

    #8 By (Anonymous) 9:14pm on March 5, 2008
    Dear #7,

    You have stumbled upon the difference between an accident and an intentional act. The YPD has its priorities all right.

    No. 7 For this unfortunate terrible situation -- You were prophetic and right.
    No. 8 -- look yourself in the mirror a______.

    Further on we had this:

    #12 By YGBSM (Unregistered User) 4:57am on March 15, 2008

    Dear #8

    So I guess the YPD shouldn't do anything about the "accidental" as opposed to the "intentional." I'm so glad you tumbled to the distinction, why you must be doing a crackerjack in first year crim. class!

    This great idea of yours #8 will save a bunch of both NHPD and YPD budget. Why it could sweep the nation! No need to enforce speed limits in residential neighborhoods. No need for any public education about unsafe driving.

    Criminal negligence? Why let's not even talk about it.

    Would it be unreasonable for Perotti to email students, perhaps as a reminder not to jay-walk or to be careful, would it hurt anything more than your jurisprudential sensibilities. Could it alert students to investigate whether there should be measures in place to reduce traffic speeds, improve signage, improve safety. Is a little awareness provocation a bad thing for students who, as young people, may not be completely aware that the accident at issue could happen to one of them.

    When Rosie Thompson '84 died in an automobile accident his senior year, no one thought it was an "intentional" act, but the awareness that a classmate could die, particularly in such a way, was a sobering reminder brought home to Yale students -- when it became known campus-wide.

    So I ask you this #8, as our resident Mr. Jurisprudence: if the student in the accident #7 describes had died, would you still begrudge a request that Perotti notify all students, on your basis that the act was "accidental" and not, as you put it "intentional?" Well?

    #13 By JayWalker (Unregistered User) 12:51pm on March 22, 2008

    Introduction to Common Sense 101- a new exciting traffic safety class offered at Yale.
    Hey, "Jaywalker," what's your smart smirking response now?

    This terrible situation and the smart-alecky sort of response what some of the unaware now may realize was a warning event underscore the fact, the fact that something needs to be done and clearly attitudes must change so that it is made clear to those who can do something about this danger do so.

  • chris

    Cars are number one. Cyclists cannot depend on cars watching out for them. Cyclists must be sure to cross streets when they are sure there are no cars coming. This is a sad incident. I was left paralyzed 30 years ago after an automobile struck me from behind on a desolate road in Nebraska while I was riding cross country for disarmament. If I hadn’t been in the shape I was in, I would not be alive today.

    I suffered a severe blow to the back of my head, which left a permanent bruise but which, thankfully was the least of my injuries. I suffered a severed femoral artery and, for some reason, did not bleed to death before it was repaired in a clinic at least a half hour later. I also did not lose my leg, which is a miracle in itself.

    My parents were called upon my arrival at ICU in Omaha and told to come to Nebraska immediately as I was not likely to live long.

    My pelvis was fractured in 6 places, I had a broken rib which still sticks out of my side, I had a broken bone in my foot as it was strapped in with cleats, which still gives me problems, I had a shattered lumbar which left me paralyzed and changed my life forever, taking me from an aspiring Tour de France rider to a fearful rider who sticks to the sidewalks and look not both ways, but all ways, not twice, but constantly.

    It is sad to hear of anyone being struck by a car while riding a bicycle for any reason.

    If I learned one lesson through my ordeal, it is not to trust automobile drivers. Wear a helmet and, again, don’t trust that cars are going to stop for you, or even move over on the road for you. I was hit from behind. The guy’s life wasn’t altered anywhere near the way mine was. Maybe he was pro-nuclear war, was out to get me, and is sorry I didn’t die. Maybe he felt bad and is sorry he put me in a wheelchair for two years while I learned to walk again. Maybe he still feels bad.

    We can work to raise awareness of these problems, but, please, don’t ride as if drivers care whether they hit you.

    The man who hit me was charged with a minor reckless driving infraction. This man may be charged with the same thing. I’m not sure if someone can be charged with manslaughter if he hits a bicycle rider who is in the road. Bicyclists rarely have the right of way, and even if they do, getting hit by a car can easily kill you (especially if you’re not wearing a helmet) and it can certainly change your life forever.

  • Brian K. Smith -CSULB

    My condolences go out to The Rainof Family and friends. I am a student of Mila's father Professor Rainof at Cal State University, Long Beach.

    I am continuously praying for all who are deeply affected by this sudden tragedy. We must all realize how precious life is and that after life here on earth there's is a place where we can all be reunited with our loved ones- in Heaven with Jesus. Salvation is the most important thing that we can ever do.
    God Bless You all!!!!!!!

  • rsergant

    Friends of Mr. and Ms. Rainof and Mila are deeply affected by this sudden loss.
    Mila would have been a positive influence on all around her for decades to come.

    She would have helped many thousands during her career in emergency medicine. She would have brought tears of laughter to those who loved her, not tears of sadness.

    We mourn her loss and the emptiness that will be left in the hearts of all those who loved her. Our sadness is pervasive, fleeing for a moment or two and then returning to engulf us.

    Mila was dedicated to preserving life and enhancing the quality of life of those less fortunate than she… may we try and emulate her purpose and zeal.
    This will be a fitting tribute to Mila and to her family who loved her so.

  • Mylene Green

    I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the Rainof Family. May you be comforted in knowing that "Families are Forever."

  • tlilayatzi

    Prof. Rainof is a wonderful, great, person and professor. He is a positive influence and a great force to his students. I can only imagine with a father like that how Mila must have been. It breaks my heart to hear of such news and that to hear that we lost a wonderful person who (although i do not know her), brang so much joy and light into everyone that she encountered. I am so sorry for your loss. My condolescences to Prof. Rainof and his family. May you be strong in time of sorrow.

  • J. Watkins, Jr.

    This student's death is a great tragedy that could have been avoided. The situation that led to the accident and her death was not her fault.

    The intersections at S. Frontage Road and York Street, and George Street and York Street, have long been notoriously dangerous. I lived on a high floor at Madison Towers for several years, and from my windows and terrace could see both intersections clearly. It was a common occurance on many days and nights to be hear sounds of screaching tires and colliding cars. Both intersections are death traps for pedestrans and motorists alike. A trafiic accident occured at the intersections of York and Frontage road right in front of the Waldbaum's Pharmacy, which resulted in the death of a motorist just a few years ago.

    Having attended Yale and lived in New Haven for many years, I've come to believe that pedestrian saftey should be a top priority along with all the other saftey information given to all Yale students each year. This would help to make students more aware of the unsafe and dangerous traffic environment they will must deal with.

    There are many other dangerous streets and intersections that Yale students navigate each day. After a time, most become very lax and cavalier when crossing streets. Flagrant and high risk jay walking is common, especially on Elm Street between York and College Streets. Yale students cross these and other streets with carefree attitudes and senses of arrogance and entitlement to cross these streets at will, and inspite of common and basic safety rules and laws. Its common to hear drivers in New Haven speak of how students will cross streets on and near campus against the traffic lights.

    Yale and New Haven officials should immediately form a task force to make the entire Yale campus a much more pedestrian safe and friendly environment. Better traffic enforcement is essential that targets both motorists and pedestrians, and which will help to ensure that such a tradedy as Ms. Rainof's never happens again.

  • TJJC


  • M.E. Gaitan

    Although it's been over a year since Mila's passing, I wish to express my deepest condolences to the Rainof family. I only found out about Mila's passing this weekend. I met her as a baby and her father was my professor at UCLA. A lovely family and a brilliant young woman whose passing robs us of having known her and of all the great healing she would have accomplished to help others. Rest in peace.