DANBURY, Conn. -- Friends and teammates of Danbury’s Patrick Healey mourned his passing Friday, a day after the New York University cross country runner was recovered from the Hudson River in New York City.
Healey, 21, was entering his senior year at New York University, where he was a member of the cross country team and track and field team. He graduated from Danbury High School in 2013, where he was a member of the National Honor Society and captain of the cross country team as a senior. An NYU spokesman said Healey was studying mathematics.
"He was a great teammate, an amazing friend, and an even better person. The world lost someone who truly could have made it a better place. " -- Nick Karam, college roommate, teammate at NYU
Rohit Das, Healey’s friend and former cross country teammate from Danbury High, said that Healey was one of his closest friends and that he touched the lives of everyone who knew him.
“He was very shy when you first met him, but when he opened up, he challenged our intelligence,” said Das, who is 20 and attends the University of Connecticut. “He was always curious about the big picture -- religion, the universe, what our purpose is and the reason we are here."
He shared a memory of one time when Healey asked a bunch of the guys what got them out of bed in the morning. Everyone went around and shared their answers, Das said.
“He was definitely a role model for me. We are all amazed that someone can be so smart and also so athletic,'' Das said of Healey.
Das said he was impressed recently when Healey was accepted into a competitive internship program at AppNexus in Manhattan.
In a phone conversation, Healey’s longtime girlfriend, Kaleigh Constantine, 19, was inconsolable. “We were dating for almost four years,” she said through tears. “Nothing I say about him is enough. He was brilliant and made me see everything in new ways. He challenged me intellectually.
“He did his best to never judge people, to always see the good in them. He touched more people than I think he even realized,'' she continued. "His friends and family and I will make him proud in everything we do, every day.”
Constantine, who attends UConn, said she last saw Healey two weeks ago in Danbury.
“We talked for a long time. He told me he wants me to know how much he loves me,” she said, adding that Sunday was his birthday.
Robert Murray of Brookfield was Healey’s cross country and indoor and outdoor coach at Danbury High for four years.
“Pat became a very fast runner because of his work ethic.'' Murray said, "He worked his way up to becoming a varsity level athlete by his junior year and became a captain his senior year, and in 2012 led the team to the FCIAC Class LL Championships. He always pushed his boundaries as a runner and it transitioned to his academic success as well.
“As a captain, he was very comfortable around the other teammates,” Murray added. “He was able to interact with people of all ages on the team, and also was always very reliable, which can be hard to be at that age.”
In the days before his death, Healey had posted a few despondent messages on Twitter. He was last seen Sunday at his Upper West Side home and was reported missing Wednesday. No cause of death has been released.
Healey also had a profound impact on his teammates at NYU.
“I saw him as a friend more than a teammate,’’ said Nick Karam, Healey’s roommate at NYU. “He’s probably the smartest person I ever knew. He was always trying to better himself.”
Healey missed running competitively for NYU for most of the past year due to mononucleosis. In 2015, he posted his best time in the 5,000 meters of 16:41.35 at the Roadrunner Invitational.
Karam, a New York City resident and captain of last year’s cross country team, said he enjoyed Healey as a roommate as well. “He was always willing to do something,’’ Karam said. “He was very non-judgmental. He was quiet, but he had a good presence.”
On Facebook, Karam wrote: "Whether it was his stories about his crazy dreams, his willingness to play Super Smash bros until 3 am, or his ability to explain something complex in a way that anyone could understand it. There isn't one particular thing that Pat Healey did that made him stand out, but the way he led his life. He was a great teammate, an amazing friend, and an even better person. The world lost someone who truly could have made it a better place."
“NYU is saddened to learn of the death of Patrick Healey, a senior in the College of Arts and Science and a mathematics major, who was in NYC for a summer internship,'' NYU spokesman John Beckman said. "Our deepest sympathies go out to his family and loved ones. The University is making counselors available to support those affected.”
Healey was a vital member of the cross country and track powerhouses at Danbury. The distance runner helped the Hatters win four straight conference championships in cross country, and helped Danbury win state titles in indoor and outdoor track as a sophomore.
“We’re all stunned,’’ Karam said. “We’re all training hard and getting ready for the season. We want to make sure we make Patrick proud.”