- 19 Sep 23
The Irish student died in a kayaking accident near Washington.
Ella Mills was on a trip with the university's whitewater kayaking club. It has been reported that the club were on the Potomac River in Maryland when the student's clothing is said to have gotten caught on a rock after being submerged in the water on Sunday.
Mills was a third-year student studying English in TCD's dual BA programme and had started in Columbia this Autumn.
Today, the head of Sutton Park School in Dublin, Ronan Walsh, paid tribute to Ella, who was a past student of the school and completed her Leaving Cert there in 2020.
"Ella was a much cherished past student of Sutton Park School," Walsh says in a post on the school's website.
"Ella’s Mum Jo-Ann Feely will be known to many of you as Chair of our Board Of Management. Our hearts are broken for Jo-Ann, Ralph and Ella’s two siblings Isabel and Leo who are in Second Year. This is a truly tragic time. Words fail us all. Our sympathies and thoughts are with Ella’s family and her large group of friends. May she rest in peace.”
Dean, Lisa Rosen-Metsch, Columbia’s General Studies announced the news in an email sent to the college community yesterday.
The email read: “Originally from Dublin, Ella was just beginning her journey at Columbia University as a third-year student in our Dual BA Program with Trinity College Dublin. She arrived in New York earlier this month to begin her studies at Columbia, having completed her English Studies coursework in Dublin. She is survived by her loving parents, brother, and sister. Our thoughts and compassion are with them at this very difficult time.”
Ms Rosen-Metsch continues: “To our GS community – we are grieving with you and holding Ella and her family and friends in our thoughts and hearts. Our entire staff at Columbia GS, as well as our colleagues throughout the campus, are available to offer continued support to you.”
In a statement released from Trinity College, they express their sorrows towards the tragic accident: “Ella was studying at Columbia University as part of a dual BA programme with Trinity. Her family, friends and classmates are in our minds at this difficult time. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a h-anam.”
It is said that first responders were called to reports of a kayaker in distress at about 3.15pm local time in a release from Montgomery County Fire Department.
Pete Piringer of the Fire and Rescue department said: “It’s very deceiving. In some areas it looks calm, but it’s not. If you’re brought even a foot or two under water, it’s like having 500 pounds of pressure against you.”
The kayaking group, along with other people who were passing by, attempted to help Ella before first responders arrived to the scene.