Updated: Monday, April 14 at 5:58 p.m.
Twenty-three-year old senior Carlos Pacanins died after he was struck by a car in downtown College Park, Md. on Friday night, the University confirmed Sunday.
Pacanins, who was weeks away from graduating with a degree in political science, stepped onto a four-lane road near the University of Maryland campus around 10:20 p.m. when he was hit.
Officers said Pacanins had been walking on a crosswalk while the “don’t walk” signal was flashing, according to a release from the Prince George’s County Police Department on Monday. The driver stayed on the scene after the collision and is cooperating with investigators.
Investigators also suspect Pacanins was under the influence of alcohol, Prince George’s County Police Department spokesman Harry Bond said.
Pacanins arrived at the hospital Friday with serious injuries that left him in “critical but stable” condition, Bond said.
GW learned through Pacanins’ family Sunday that he died from those injuries, University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar said. His family could not be reached for comment Sunday.
Friends described Pacanins, a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, as energetic, quick to make friends and enthusiastic about life.
“He was the kind of guy who could light up a room. He could talk to anyone,” his close friend Jeff Allen, a senior, said. “His love of life was absolutely something I strove for and a lot of people in my class all strove for.”
Senior Mohammed Almarwani, who took political science classes with him, said Pacanins planned to pursue a career in politics, with dreams of serving as a governor or congressman.
Slated to graduate this May, Pacanins had already invited family and friends over to celebrate together at his home, Almarwani said.
He is also remembered for ensuring that those around him felt welcomed. Over Thanksgiving break, Pacanins invited several of his fraternity brothers still on campus to eat dinner with his family in their Bethesda, Md. home.
Junior Ian Crueldad, a recent transfer student who joined the family for Thanksgiving, said Pacanins was one of the first members of TKE who reached out to him after a shaky transition to GW.
“He told me that it doesn’t matter what people thought about me because I was going to go far because I was a hard-working person. No one had told me that before at GW,” Crueldad said, adding that he had last seen Pacanins a few nights before he died.
The senior also loved ’80s music and was known for belting renditions of “Dancing in the Moonlight” around the chapter’s townhouse on 22nd Street.
For several hours on Sunday, TKE members played his favorite songs – from John Denver’s “Country Roads” to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” – in his memory. The chapter also invited a student leader from the Newman Center to lead a prayer Saturday night.
This marks the fourth death of an undergraduate student this semester.
Pacanins was struck near the intersection of Baltimore Avenue and Knox Road, a lively corner lined with restaurants and bars near the college’s dorms. Three pedestrians have been struck by cars near the intersection since July, including 22-year-old Maryland student Cory Hubbard, who was killed in a hit-and-run incident in January.
“It is the type of area that would be prone to problems,” Prince George’s County Police Cpl. Jason Smith said, adding that the busy Thursday and Friday nights were particularly dangerous.
Allen, who was also a former president of TKE, said the chapter is heartbroken. He said members have appreciated the outreach by Greek organizations across GW. Pi Beta Phi held a card-making event for TKE and Beta Theta Pi, which lost a freshman pledge 10 days ago.
Allen said he and Pacanins had spent spring break together in Panama City, celebrating the near-close to their college careers. He remembers standing on the beach, putting his arm around his friend and realizing: “This is amazing. This is where I want to be, with the people I want to be with.”
Now, Allen said it’s tough to think about stepping onto the National Mall for Commencement without him. He said the day of graduation, the seniors will gather at their townhouse beforehand to honor him.
“To know that we’re not all finishing college together this year is so heartbreaking,” he said. “Our fraternity loved him and we’ll always love him. He has done so much for us.”
Pacanins’ family will hold a memorial service on Monday, April 21 at 10 a.m. at St. Bartholomew Catholic Church, in Bethesda.
Carlos Pacanins was a good man, a better friend, and a great brother. RIP Carlos you will be missed.
— Alpha Pi Chapter TKE (@GW_TKE) April 13, 2014