A painful blow was struck against the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Prescott family when ERAU student Jesse Hill was killed in a pedestrian accident near his home in Las Vegas on New Year’s Day. Both he and his high school sweetheart, Annemarie Ricci, were struck. He died from his injuries, and she was hospitalized in critical condition.
“The Embry-Riddle family has a hole in it,” remarked Chancellor Dr. Frank Ayers at Hill’s memorial service at ERAU on Jan. 11, and this was truly evident by the outpouring of emotion shown at this service. Hill was an active member of the campus and was very involved in his church, chess, and the ERAU Black Sheep Rugby team. “Some people take a slow start in life… but I knew Jesse was not one of those people when about ten minutes after we heard the news, Tyler, the president of the rugby team, walked into my office and said ‘We’d sure like to do some kind of tribute. This was our friend, a member of our team, one of us.” said Dr. Ayers about Hill, saying also to Hill’s mother, “You raised a great young man.”
Jordan Fishman, one of Hill’s friends from high school, recounted the times when Hill would enjoy nature and take his suitemates with him. “For two years before college, we would jump in and out of each other’s houses,” said Fishman, and they treated each other like family. Tyler Toczek, president of the school’s rugby team, also spoke, and the Black Sheep gifted a jersey to Hill’s mother, Crystal, who was in attendance. “When Jesse first came out to practice, he was kinda shy…, but he kept coming back, week after week, and putting smiles on our faces. We realized he had something that is often overlooked in this world, which is a good heart with good intentions.” Toczek also said “Jesse is and always will be a member of the Black Sheep family, and we will forever keep Jesse in our hearts and in our prayers.” His suitemates and other friends spoke next, and Alec Braun shared a poem for the occasion, all lamenting the loss of a dear friend.
Even at this young age, Hill wanted to give life back to the community and signed up to be an organ donor. “I understand there are five people right now who have organs, who have lives, from his life,” said Dr. Ayers at the memorial service. “At Embry-Riddle we are a family,” Dr. Ayers reflected, and went on to note that “It appears from the pattern of [Annemarie’s] injuries…, that when the accident occurred, the last thing this young man did on this Earth was push her out of the way.” Horizons Newspaper and the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Prescott campus grieve over the loss of this member of the ERAU family, and offer our condolences to his family.
Quotes from friends:
“Jesse was much more than a suitemate to us. He was also a great friend and a great person. Every night, our entire suite would eat supper at the dining hall together and we wish that he was there to join us. However, we do know that Jesse is in a better place now and we will all miss him a great deal.” ~Neil Johnson, On behalf of the entire suite
I didn’t really know Jesse until my roommate and I spent about four hours with him and his suite the night before finals began last semester. I’ll always remember what he told me that night, “You know, you guys are really cool. We should hang out more often.” He’ll definitely be missed. ~Seerat Sangha
I didn’t really know Jesse as well as others did, but in the few meetings we had I always remembered him as a positive, funny, and happy guy. He was motivated to help and most definitely an incredible student. I will miss seeing him around, as I am sure will many others, as Jesse was an individual who added his unique character to this place a lot of us now call home. I am happy to say that I got the chance to know him, even if it was for a little while, and I pray for those who suffer from this loss. ~Anonymous