Catholic college mourns death of star student-athlete in tragic crash

WORCESTER, Mass. — Officials at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester are “stunned and saddened” over the death of sophomore Grace Rett, 20, a star rowing athlete who died from injuries she sustained in a motor vehicle crash early Jan. 15 in Florida during a winter training trip.

First responders look over the scene of a crash in Vero Beach, Fla., Jan. 15, 2020. Grace Rett, a sophomore at the Jesuit-run College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., was killed in the accident while traveling in the van with other members of the rowing team. (CNS photo/Corey Arwood, Treasure Coast News, USA TODAY NETWORK via Reuters)

“Our community has suffered a tragic loss. I extend my deepest condolences to Grace’s family, members of the women’s rowing team and their coaches, and all who loved Grace,” said Jesuit Father Philip L. Boroughs, president of the college.

“In our grief we pray that the healing power of the love of Christ will touch their hearts and provide some peace,” he said in a statement. “I ask that all members of the community support one another at this time and pray for the healing of those involved in the accident.”

Rett, who was from Uxbridge, Massachusetts, was an English and psychology major and had just turned 20 Jan. 14. She recently set a world record for indoor rowing — 62 straight hours on an erg machine.

The team was riding in a van at the time of the crash in Vero, Florida. Police said it appeared the van driver may have failed to yield, causing the crash with a pickup truck at an intersection at 7:30 a.m. local time.

Six other members of the team and a coach suffered injuries in the crash and were transported to local hospitals.

In Worcester Jan. 15, hundreds of students attended a brief gathering on campus at the college’s Luth Athletic Complex. A news release said college chaplains and counselors, along with staff from the athletics department, were present to offer their support for all members of the community.

Plans for additional remembrances will be announced at a later date.

The Holy Cross vs. Army West Point men’s basketball game scheduled for that evening was postponed until the afternoon of Jan. 16.

“Today, our community is faced with unimaginable tragedy and devastating loss. Everyone who knew Grace was touched by her warm heart, tenacious work ethic and inspirational drive,” said Marcus Blossom, the athletics director.

“Our entire Holy Cross community is mourning today, and our focus is on supporting our Crusader students, families, faculty and staff, both here and in Florida,” he said in a statement. “Our prayers are with Grace’s family and all those injured in today’s events. We ask for everyone’s thoughts and prayers.”

“Grace was a light to all who knew her,” said Michele Murray, dean of students, at an afternoon news conference Jan. 15. “She was incredibly passionate and hardworking. Many of you will have seen evidence of that because she just set the world record for continuous erging.”