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10 December, 2023
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Celebration turns fatal for US women in Germany

University of Illinois mourns the loss of one student and supports the recovery of the injured

Source: The Guardian

Two US women who had just earned computer-related college degrees had gone to southern Germany to celebrate when a fellow American they met while hiking shoved them down a steep slope last week, killing one and seriously wounding the other, according to officials.

Eva Liu, 21, received her bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in May. Authorities say she was sexually assaulted and pushed to death near Neuschwanstein Castle, a famous tourist destination in Bavaria. Her 22-year-old friend Kelsey Chang had also just graduated from the same school with a bachelor’s in computer engineering – reports say she was attacked, too, but survived.

Liu and Chang’s alma mater issued a statement to news media outlets which lamented that the pair of friends were not “able to celebrate such an important accomplishment without … such a tragic outcome”.

“Our University of Illinois family is mourning the senseless death of Ms. Liu and the attack on Ms. Chang,” the school’s statement read. “Our thoughts are with Ms. Chang as she recovers and with both of their families as they grieve.”

Before they became trapped in the latest travel abroad horror story to grip the US, Liu and Chang attended the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy in the Chicago suburb of Aurora and befriended each other. They had decided to vacation together in Germany as a reward for completing their undergraduate college work, and they were hiking on their trip when their paths crossed that of a 30-year-old American man.

The man – who has not been publicly identified – lured the friends to a trail that leads to the Marienbrücke, or Mary’s Bridge. The Marienbrücke is a popular vantage point for pictures of Neuschwanstein, the most famous of the castles which King Ludwig II of Bavaria built in the 19th century.

On the trail leading there, the man assailed Liu, and Chang tried to help her friend stave the attack off, authorities said. The man then pushed Chang down a slope, tried to sexually assault Liu, and then shoved her down the slope as well, according to officials.

Liu fell about 165ft (50 meters) and died after rescuers flew her to a hospital. A tree reportedly broke Chang’s fall, and she was later reported to be responsive and recovering at the hospital where rescue crews took her.

Police jailed the alleged attacker on charges of murder and attempted murder. They later asked castle visitors to send any photos or videos they may have taken at the time of Liu and Chang’s attack. As of late last week, that appeal had generated about a dozen submissions on a website specially designed for that purpose.

In an interview with the Illinois television station WLS, a neighbor of Liu’s family described herself as heartbroken over the news out of Germany.

“I’m very upset … my daughter travels overseas and stuff too, and I just can’t even believe what people are capable of doing anymore,” said Debbie Krull. “You really worry badly.”

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