September 20, 2010

SAIS community mourns death of student after auto accident

A memorial service was held on Friday at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, D.C., to honor Julia Bachleitner, 26, a SAIS student who died Tuesday from injuries suffered in an accident on Sept. 8 in the city’s Adams Morgan neighborhood. Following the service, a reception was held in SAIS’s Nitze Building.

Bachleitner, a native of Austria, and fellow student Melissa Basque, from France, were struck by a car that mounted the center island where the two women were waiting to cross the street. Basque, also 26, suffered severe injuries but has been released from the hospital. According to The Washington Post, police said that the driver’s blood-alcohol limit was nearly twice the legal limit for driving in the District.

Bachleitner was concentrating in Conflict Management and had just begun her studies at SAIS’s Washington campus, following a year at the Bologna Center.

“Julia’s background prior to joining the SAIS community clearly showed that she had a passion for international affairs, in particular development issues, and a love of languages,” wrote Dean Jessica Einhorn in a letter to SAIS students, faculty and staff. “She interned for the United Nations and the European Union. She also worked for the Austrian Foreign Ministry and spent a year in Asia, where she participated in a rural development project in northern Thailand,” she said. “We understand that she had an interest in pursuing a public service career, either with her country’s foreign ministry or an international organization, such as the U.N.”

Bachleitner’s parents, her twin sister, other family members and her boyfriend were with her when she died.