WMU student who died in dorm ‘remarkable’

Allysa Olafson (Source: Facebook)

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Friends of a Western Michigan University student who died early Thursday morning in her dorm room are shocked and questioning the young woman’s death.

Alyssa Olafson, 19, of Allendale, was found unresponsive around 1:20 a.m. in Eicher Hall.

Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Chief Jeff Hadley told 24 Hour News 8 his officers assisted the Western Michigan University Department of Public Safety on a report of a student in cardiac arrest around 2 a.m. Emergency responders were unable to revive Olafson.

A WMU spokesperson said a pre-existing medical condition may have been a factor in Olafson’s death. There was no indication of drug or alcohol use, and while an autopsy was conducted Thursday morning in Lansing, Olafson’s official cause of death has not yet been released.

Several people told 24 Hour News 8 Thursday that Olafson’s death would not have been connected to drugs or alcohol.

Those who knew the WMU freshman told 24 Hour News 8 they didn’t know of any pre-existing medical condition.

Olafson met Peg Driesenga at church and the two worked together at Harbor House Ministries in Jenison, a place that helps adults with special needs. Despite going off to college in Kalamazoo, Olafson still worked every other weekend at Harbor House.

“Just a remarkable young woman. An intelligent young lady. A lady of faith. [I] just can’t say enough good about her,” said Driesenga.

Driesenga told 24 Hour News 8 people first noticed Olafson’s infectious smile.

“She had the sweetest smile. She had the brightest smile with cute little dimples and you couldn’t help but see her and kind of light up,” said Driesenga.

Olafson was energetic and full of life: A young woman with her whole life ahead of her, said Driesenga, a woman who was also devoted to her faith.

“She was a beautiful girl, and she made a beautiful mark on the world, and it’s just going to be a great loss, a great gap that’s left behind,” said Driesenga. “So while we take comfort that she’s in heaven, we’re definitely going to miss her here.”

24 Hour News 8 was told Olafson was the co-captain of the girls soccer team at Allendale High School and made the WMU dean’s list during her first semester. She was a pre-health and human services major, according to a WMU spokesperson.

WMU DPS is handling the investigation into Olafson’s death.

Counselors have been made available to students and staff on campus.

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