MIT student killed when off-duty cop drives onto sidewalk in New York City

 A MIT student was killed over the weekend in New York when an off-duty police officer’s SUV struck a group of friends on the sidewalk, police said.

Andrew “Drew” Esquivel, a rising senior, was killed, according to an email to MIT students. Sophia Tabchouri, a current student, and James Balchunas, a 2014 graduate, as well as another young woman, were seriously injured.

According to investigators in New York, Nicholas Batka, a 28-year-old off-duty New York City police officer, lost control of his vehicle early Saturday morning and drove up onto the sidewalk in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, striking the group.

Batka was arrested and charged with manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter and driving while intoxicated. An NYPD spokesman said he was suspended without pay pending the disposition of the case.

Esquivel, 21, was taken to Bellevue Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The others were brought to local hospitals in stable condition.

In a message to students, Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart wrote that the administration extended their deepest sympathy to Esquivel’s family and friends, and hoped for a swift recovery for those injured.

A rising senior in electrical engineering and computer science, Drew was an officer and respected leader of MIT’s wrestling club. He participated in a UROP in the Laboratory for Computational Physiology developing electronic medical record systems for underserved areas. A native of Healdsburg, California, Drew most recently lived off campus and was in New York working at an internship with the mobile marketing firm Appboy.
Barnhart wrote that chaplains would be available Wednesday from noon to 2 p.m. for prayer, support and quiet reflection, in addition to other university resources.

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