IU freshmen get crash course in life from Rachael's First Week

IU freshmen took part in Rachael's First Week Thursday.
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A group of freshmen at Indiana University got a crash course in life this morning from a gut-wrenching story of death.

Rachael Fiege died just days before starting her freshman year at IU last fall when she fell down the stairs at an off-campus party. Rachael suffered severe head trauma and didn't receive the critical medical attention she needed until it was too late.

For the first time since Rachael's death, her mother, Angi, and Rachael's friends are sharing her story and an important message with other IU freshmen.

"It's bittersweet. We spent many hours walking the sidewalks here," Angi said.

She can't help but remember how much her daughter loved IU and how excited she was to start classes on the Bloomington campus.

"We actually paced out where she would go for each of her classes and went to the bookstore. So, there were a lot of fun times, good memories," she said.

But they're also the last memories and the last time Angi saw Rachael alive.

They're encouraging them to make wise decisions and look out for one another in a program called "Rachael's First Week. Angi launched it last spring at Zionsville High School where Rachael graduated.

"If they're unconscious, call for help. Don't overthink it, just call for help," Angi said.

"I left apparently 15 minutes before she had her fall. It eats at me everyday. This is where we're getting at - don't leave your friends," said Rachael's friend, Mary Baluyut.

While the questions were few, the impact was deep. After this presentation wrapped up, students called the program "a gamechanger."

"It's very real and to see someone that goes to our school and hear a story of someone who goes to our school and this happened to her, so it really can be anyone," said Alexa Fritchey, an IU freshman. "I think the students, the friends of hers put it perfectly by saying that you don't think it can be you until it is and that's a really scary way to look at it."

"Seeing that whole thing and seeing how the mom reacted to pictures of her daughter was just really sad and I hope nobody really has to go through that, so I'll be looking out for everybody," said freshman Quentin Taylor

"It's homecoming week and we still have more parties to go to and it's just a reminder that things can happen and we can save each others' lives," said IU instructor Ben Smith.

Angi hopes to make the presentation at Indiana University a regular event.

"We're hopefully making an impact on others and will benefit other students and other families so they don't have to go through this," she said.