Freak Lab Accident Kills Yale Student


Yale community mourns the tragic
loss of a promising scientist.

Her life came to a sudden and violent end early on Wednesday morning while working in a machine shop at Yale University’s chemistry laboratory. University officials have identified senior Michele Dufault as the student whose hair was caught in a lathe, a machine used in metalworking and wood. She was 22.

Statue of Benjamin Silliman by the Sterling Chemistry Laboratory building, Yale University.

Dufault was working alone late Tuesday evening and into the early hours of Wednesday morning, seeking to complete her senior project on “dark matter” reports the Yale Daily News. Students working in the building discovered her body and a call was made to the New Haven Police Department at 2:30 a.m. An autopsy conducted by the state revealed that Dufault’s death was an accident, attributed to “asphyxia due to neck compression.”

Candlelight Vigil

On Wednesday evening, hundreds of Yale students gathered for a candlelight vigil at Killingworth “Grass” Courtyard honoring Dufault, a Saybrook College majoring in astronomy and physics, and an accomplished saxophonist and oceanographer. Dufault was just weeks away from graduating.

Yale officials immediately launched an investigation and shut down the lab. Only students who have completed safety training are allowed access to the Sterling Chemistry Laboratory. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration has launched its own investigation to check whether the lab is in compliance with federal safety regulations.

Memorial Service

Following the discovery of Dufault’s body, the university sent out emails apprising students and faculty of the tragedy. Classes at the affected building were canceled for the day and an on-campus memorial service will be held at the end of the semester.

In a letter to the Yale community published by the Yale Daily Bulletin, university president Richard C. Levin offered his condolences to Michele’s family and shared her accomplishments and aspirations. The Scituate, Mass. resident is survived by her parents Diane Quintin Dufault and Robert Dufault and a sister, Caroline. Obituary and Guest for Michele Dufault

Photo: Wikimedia


end of post idea


Helpful article? Leave us a quick comment below.
And please share this article within your social networks.

facebook linkedin pinterest

Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to The commission earnings are used to defray our cost of operation.

View our FTC Disclosure for other affiliate information.

Categories: Campus News