Mom creates 'Rachael's First Week' from tragedy of daughter's death

ZIONSVILLE, Ind. - As thousands of freshmen prepare to start college tomorrow at IU's Bloomington campus, a mother who lost her only daughter during "Welcome Week" 2013 is hoping to help keep them safe.

Zionsville High School grad Rachael Fiege died on Aug. 24, 2013, after falling down a flight of stairs at a party just two days before classes were to start.

Police said the 19-year-old's friends didn't call 911 for hours out of fear of getting in trouble for drinking underage.   

One year later, Fiege's mother Angi is still grieving. But, she says, she's turning that grief into something good with a program she hopes could save a life.

"I have relived that day a lot in the last 24 hours," Angi Fiege said. "It's the worst phone call you can get."

Fiege, a doctor at Methodist Hospital, says she knew her daughter was gone.

"There's no blame in this. I don't blame any of the kids that were there," she said.

Sunday marked the one-year anniversary of Rachael Fiege's death. On Saturday, more than 20 of her friends gathered at her grave site to remember her. Keeping other young people like them safe is the reason Angi says she started "Rachael's First Week."

"Her legacy will be that she'll help other students not to get into situations [like hers]," Angi said.

The pilot program is focused on educating young people about dangerous behavior at college. In May, the first session was held at Zionsville High School, where Rachael's friends returned from college to mentor high school seniors.

"Where I want to focus is, you know, helping students realize that when you see somebody that is unconscious, that's not right – I don't care how much they've had to drink," Angi said. "It's trying to promote awareness to prevent another tragedy like this."

As part of the program, Fiege is sending out tweets that say, "Stay safe: One evening of fun can lead to serious consequences."

"We're gonna put in phone numbers where a student can see the tweet, and there will be a phone number for an escort service or the police," Fiege said.

Fiege's goal is to grow the program so that high schools everywhere will use it to educate their students, to bring awareness and, hopefully, save at least one life.

To learn more about "Rachael's First Week," you can contact Angi Fiege on Twitter.

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