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The People We Lost

The People We Lost

“Leave me alone and don’t come any closer,” ordered Colleen Freeman, when two parking garage employees found her teetering near the edge of a 10th floor parking deck. Then she jumped.
Colleen Freeman was a kind, caring, and supportive resident of Barnegat, New Jersey. She was the wife of her beloved husband, Jere Freeman, and the mother of six children: Heather, Jeremy, Jaclynn, Jonathan, Joshua and Kevin.
Michael and Kazz Johnson, friends of Colleen and Jere, shared many pictures of Colleen and her friends enjoying Rutgers sports meetups. The Johnsons affectionately wrote in Colleen’s obituary: “Dear Queen Colleen Belle, sometimes in life you find a special friend. Someone who changes your life by being a part of it. You will always be in our hearts and minds. No words could ever describe how much you will be missed. Your smile, laughter, and sense of humor are forever etched into our memories.”
Another friend, Kathy Falco, wrote, “The world shifted the day you left. Nothing will be the same without your beautiful smile. Love you and miss you!”


“Nothing will be the same without your beautiful smile.”


Mark Magoon Jr., a friend of Colleen’s children, wrote, “You will be greatly missed. You always treated me like one of your own and always seemed to make me feel right at home in the Freeman household.”
Mark’s mother, Carolyn Magoon, wrote, “I was very sad to hear this news, Colleen. You were like a second mother to my son!”
On January 23rd, 2015, New Brunswick Parking Authority Employees Ahmed Ali and Andy Yon found Colleen Freeman sitting on the ledge of the Gateway Parking Deck, facing Easton Avenue. They tried to communicate with her and calm her down, and to dissuade her from jumping. But she refused their help.
“Leave me alone and don’t come any closer,” she demanded, before jumping from the 10th level of the parking deck.
Freeman was pronounced dead at 3:21 a.m.

Death of a nurse 
Elizabeth Johnsen of Crosswicks, New Jersey worked for several years as a nurse at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick – the hospital attached to the Plum Street Parking Deck. Johnsen was born in Asheville, North Carolina, attended school in Italy and graduated from the American Overseas School of Rome. She earned her nursing degree from the University of Rochester, New York, and Grace College, Indiana. She was a loving wife to Stephen (Zeke) Johnsen, had a passion for cooking and felt a deep appreciation for nature.
Robert Wood Johnson Hospital nurse Elizabeth Johnsen died June 5, 2014, after falling from the Plum Street parking deck.

Johnsen was “someone who will always be special and missed,” wrote her friend David Lee in her obituary.
Marlene Gray wrote that Johnsen had “spent the past 20 years doing God’s work, in caring for and giving comfort to the sick.”
Annalisa Bertolazzi of Allentown, Pennsylvania,  a friend from the American Overseas School of Rome, wrote in Elizabeth’s obituary that “she was always so sweet and loving. I cannot believe she is gone, but she is in a better place.”
On June 4th, 2014,  Johnsen was scheduled to work at the Robert Wood Johnson Hospital in the Same Day Surgery Department located in the Atrium. But she never arrived at work.
The following day, she was pronounced dead by medical personnel. Still dressed in her blue scrubs and white sneakers, she had parked her car on the 12th floor of the Plum Street Parking Deck before jumping to her death from the highest floor, on June 5th.


“She was always so sweet and loving. I cannot believe she is gone.”


Loss of a pediatric nurse
Sandra Dolce of Monroe Township was a loving wife of Raphael Dolce for 17 years, and the mother of three children: Nicholas, Michael, and Amy. Dolce was also a licensed practical nurse for Mid Jersey Pediatrics, and a parishioner of the Holy Trinity Church in Helmetta. She had a history of depression, and had previously been hospitalized for mental health issues due to a previous suicide attempt.
On October 18th, 2015, at approximately 1:36 pm, she fell from the Paterson Street Parking Deck. Police found her car at the rooftop level, along with an empty pill bottle.
Dolce was pronounced dead at 1:52 pm by Robert Wood Johnson Hospital personnel.
A student athlete jumps
Pascual Perez told friends that he was despondent over the death of a friend.

Pascual Perez was known by friends and family as an “energetic” and “vibrant” person with a smile that would light up a room. His obituary details his passion for sports, and excellence in soccer, football, and baseball. He loved video games, music, and fishing. From his grade-school years in Brooklyn, New York to his time as Piscataway, New Jersey student, he maintained remarkable grades, and graduated with honors. He was accepted in Rutgers University as an engineering student, thanks to his passion for math and science. His longtime peers affectionately called him by his nickname, “Paco.”
On March 25th, 2017, Perez told a friend that he was experiencing suicidal thoughts, due to the recent death of a friend. The friend contacted New Brunswick police, due to the severity of Pascual’s mental state, and reported the discussion.
The police were contacted at 12:55pm.
At 3:11 p.m., Perez fell from the top level of the Morris Street Parking Deck, despite the attempts of friends and emergency personnel to help him. He was pronounced dead at 3:24pm.
The Mollenkamp family, who had known Pascual and his family for many years, wrote in his obituary: “Our hearts are beyond heavy, it is more as if our hearts are crushed. We try to find joy in the wonderful times [his friend] Nils, and so many in the PHS Class of 2013 and the RU Class of 2017, had with Paco.”
Nils Mollenkamp lit a memorial candle and wrote: “Memories of you and our friendship will always live on. This candle represents the brightness you shed on my life. May you rest in eternal peace.”

“Our hearts are beyond heavy, it is more as if our hearts are crushed.”

A biology student is lost

On February 3rd, 2019, a 25-year-old female Rutgers graduate student enrolled in the molecular biology and biochemistry program committed suicide by jumping from the 10th floor of the Gateway Parking Deck. There were several witnesses to this incident, due to the fact that the incident occurred at noon on a Sunday.
According to the parking deck surveillance footage, she “climbed over the ledge” and jumped “without hesitation.”

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