May 4, 1998

Contact: Elizabeth Latt


Vanderbilt student loses battle

to overcome tornado injuries


NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Vanderbilt senior Kevin Longinotti early this morning lost his battle to overcome injuries he received when a tree fell on him during a tornado that struck near campus April 16.

The 22-year-old student from Memphis died at approximately 12:30 a.m. at Vanderbilt University Medical Center just four days before he was to have graduated and to have been commissioned as an Army officer.

"Kevin was an extraordinary young man. He was one of our best and brightest students. He was also a compassionate person who felt blessed by his talents and freely shared his good fortune with others," Chancellor Joe B. Wyatt said this morning.

"The Vanderbilt community is deeply saddened by the loss of this young man who held such promise and who already had begun to make the world a better place," Wyatt said. "Our hearts go out to his family, his many friends and the countless lives he touched as a student, a teacher and a person."

A memorial service is expected to be held on campus; however, the date and time are not yet set. The funeral is expected later in the week in Memphis.

For the past 17 days, Longinotti fought to overcome injuries that doctors said would have instantaneously killed anyone who was not as strong and healthy as he. His family and friends kept a constant vigil throughout hoping that he would overcome the odds which were never in his favor.

His family and friends organized a special blood drive April 22 in his honor. The American Red Cross reported that a record 600 donors gave during the drive, which was held to replenish the blood supply following the tornado.

Longinotti's injury occurred while he and other members of the Army ROTC had gathered at Centennial Park, near campus, for a picnic to mark the end of the academic year. The storm came up quickly and Longinotti was struck as he and others scrambled for shelter.



Vanderbilt University is a private research university of approximately 5,900 undergraduates and 4,300 graduate and professional students. Founded in 1873, the University comprises 10 schools, a public policy institute, a distinguished medical center and The Freedom Forum First Amendment Center. Vanderbilt offers undergraduate programs in the liberal arts and sciences, education and human development, engineering and music, and a full range of graduate and professional degrees.

For more news about Vanderbilt, visit the News and Public Affairs home page on the Internet at

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Document updated May 4, 1998.