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.