Sunday, June 22, 2014

India: Kaitlin Goldstein, 28, Running Alone Slipped Near Cliff, Fell Hundreds of Feet to Her Death

According to The Associated Press, a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who went missing more than a week ago in northern India has been found dead in a ravine after she reportedly slipped while jogging and fell several hundred feet off a cliff, MIT officials said Sunday (June 22).

Kaitlin Goldstein, 28, of Providence, RI, was found dead Saturday (June 21) in a remote region of northern India known as Ladakh, in a ravine below a trail where she went running on June 14. She hadn't been seen since. 

Her parents, who went to India to look for their daughter, told MIT officials that she apparently slipped on some loose rocks before falling off a nearby cliff.

Goldstein, a competitive runner, was working on a doctorate in architecture at MIT in Cambridge, MA.  

COMMENT: As a parent of two daughters, I can only surmise the anguish that the Goldsteins must be experiencing.

As most parents know all too well, no parent should survive their children. Somehow, it seems so unnatural

In Kaitlin's case,  she was accomplished well beyond her years, yet I know all too well the kind of chemical addiction that competitive running can bring into our psyche. There are times in my running years that I came to view it as a bit of a curse.

Having worked in India extensively over the years, I know its terrain well, having run myself in New Delhi, Mumbai and numerous other cities, large and small. 

Despite its industrialization, India remains very much a developing an impoverished nation with the commensurate risks that most emerging nations grapple with: A lack of signage, written warnings, bi-lingual announcements, roping off hazardous areas, etc.

One can never know whether if Kaitlin had been running with another person if the end-result would have been the same. Fortunately, we will never know.

If there is any silver lining for the Goldsteins it is this:

Kaitlin was doing what she loved, which was long-distance running. For a young woman of 28, she obviously had accomplished so much in her short life, worthy of a profound remembrance. Although grief-stricken as they are at this time, Kaitlin's accomplishments while on Earth should be celebrated and remembered always.

Kaitlin arrived in India on June 7, to take part in a workshop on energy and development on the campus of the Students' Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh near the city of Leh.

The workshop was organized by the MIT-affiliated Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values and the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology in Abu Dhabi. She had been scheduled to stay after the workshop and help install solar panels at a nearby Buddhist monastery, MIT officials said.

MIT President L. Rafael Reif sent an email to the members of the MIT community on Sunday notifying them that Goldstein had died and that counseling services were available on campus:

"She was passionately interested in energy solutions for the developing world, a subject she was exploring in a remote region of northern India at the time of her death," Reif wrote. "The death of someone so young and promising is a terrible loss; we should all take time to reach out to those around us."

When Goldstein went missing, students and instructors at the Students' Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh began searching for her.

The search grew to include local police, the Intelligence Bureau of India, the US Embassy in New Dehli, the US State Department and the FBI. MIT also hired a private security firm based in Mumbai.