Yale Student Suffocates in Freak Lab Accident

Promising science major Michele Dufault mourned
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 14, 2011 2:03 AM CDT
Updated Apr 14, 2011 4:23 AM CDT
Yale's president called the incident a "true tragedy" and promised a full investigation.   (Shutterstock)
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(Newser) – Yale University is mourning a young woman killed this week in a horrific lab accident. Michele Dufault's hair was caught in a lathe in a chemistry lab's machine shop, and the quick-spinning machinery pulled her in, choking her. The medical examiner determined that the 22-year-old senior died from accidental asphyxia by neck compression, the New Haven Register reports.

Dufault, who was majoring in astronomy and physics, and was weeks away from graduating, had worked with NASA on a reduced-gravity experiment and helped design underwater robotic vehicle for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. "The community is deeply saddened by the loss of such an intelligent young woman with such high potential,” said the institution's dean of academic programs. The Yale marching band, in which Dufault played saxophone, performed her favorite selection, Nirvana’s Entertain Us, at a memorial gathering last night. "Today, tomorrow, and forever we are playing our music for her," said a poster on a Facebook memorial page in her honor.

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