UNH student’s humor, dance passion recalled

One of 3 victims dead of apparent drug overdoses

Olivia Rotondo died after attending the Electric Zoo Festival (above)  in New York over the Labor Day Wwekend.
Karsten Moran for The New York Times
Olivia Rotondo died after attending the Electric Zoo Festival (above) in New York over the Labor Day Wwekend.

Close friends remembered University of New Hampshire student Olivia Rotondo’s self-confidence and sarcastic sense of humor Monday, one day after police said Rotondo and a Rochester, N.Y., man died of apparent drug overdoses following an electronic music festival in New York City.

“She was one of those people that, she walked in the room, and her sense of humor, her personality . . . it was just infectious,” said Rory Carvalho, 20, a UNH junior from Andover, Mass.

Rotondo’s death brought together a community of students at UNH, friends said.


“We’re all very good friends of Olivia, so we’re all just supporting each other,” Carvalho said. “That’s all we can really do.”

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Rotondo, 20, from North Providence, R.I., died Saturday night, and Jeffrey Russ, 23, of Rochester, N.Y., died early Sunday morning after they were taken to hospitals from the Electric Zoo Music Festival, New York police said.

New York officials said the deaths appeared to be connected to the club drug MDMA, a pure form of ecstasy known by the street name Molly, which is also suspected in the death early Wednesday of 19-year-old Brittany Flannigan of Derry, N.H., at Boston’s House of Blues.

The young women said Rotondo, a member of the university’s dance team, had a passion for music and dance and was proficient in a style that blended jazz dance, hip-hop, ballet, and modern dance.

They said she also liked to go out and to dance socially, but she was not irresponsible.


“She was always down to have a good time, but when it came to partying she was smart,” said Kelly Marinick, 20, a UNH junior from Wayne, Pa.

“She had a great spirit about her, and a presence,” Marinick said. “If you were in a bad mood, she would make you laugh.”

Brianne Kennedy, 20, a UNH junior from Montclair, N.J., said Rotondo “was always comfortable with herself, and that made everyone else around her comfortable and happy.”

The women said MDMA is not a normal part of their social scene.

Rather than dwell on Rotondo’s death, they said they are trying to focus on happy memories.


“We all miss her, and the whole entire UNH community really is feeling for her,” Marinick said. “It definitely is a very hard thing to go through at a such a young age. There really are no words that can describe it.”

State Police said two men attending a Saturday night electronic music concert at the Bank of America Pavilion in South Boston were taken to hospitals because they appeared to have overdosed on an ecstasy-type drug. A third man appeared to have overdosed on a hallucinogen, State Police said.

Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.