Haley Rue was traveling in Europe while working for a Harvard University affiliated travel guide company.
Haley Rue was traveling in Europe while working for a Harvard University affiliated travel guide company.
Family photo

A soon-to-be Harvard University sophomore died last week while traveling in Germany. Haley A. Rue, 19, of Tacoma, Wash., fell into a waterfall and was then apparently sucked into a deadly whirlpool.

Initial reports said the accident took place after Rue fell off a 16-foot high cliff above the Buchenegger waterfalls while hiking in the southern German region of Allgäu. Divers reportedly found her body after a rescue attempt by a friend proved unsuccessful.

Rue was in Europe working as a researcher and writer for a Harvard University-affiliated travel guide company, The Harvard Crimson reported. Rue’s Facebook and Twitter accounts are replete with narratives of and photos from her recent travels abroad.

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In what can only be described as a cruel twist, Rue’s final Facebook post links to a blog post she wrote entitled “Falling Down Mountains.”

Rue’s grandmother told The Boston Globe that she found out about her daughter’s death through German news reports.

“The best way I can describe Haley is that the whole room lit up when Haley came in,” said Rue, her voice quavering. “She had a wonderful smile. She talked and laughed and included everyone in the conversation. She was a very bright girl.”

A prayer service was held Sunday in Rue’s hometown and attended by hundreds to memorialize the student, according to The News Tribune.

“The fact that so many people gathered at the drop of a hat I think speaks to Haley,” said Virginia Greenwood, who said Rue was friends with her daughter, and she described her as kind and brilliant.

Harvard College Dean Rakesh Khurana on Sunday issued a statement to students expressing condolences and sympathy, calling Rue “poised, elegant, genuine, joyful, grounded.”