HARRISONBURG, Va. (WUSA) - On the campus of James Madison University, shock and sorrow over the death of Elizabeth Conway Nass have subdued the usual excitement of a new school year.
Today is move-in day for freshman, a day of excitement and new beginnings. But early this morning, word began to spread via social media that one of the Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority sisters was dead.
"It should be an exciting time for students to come back to school, but the loss of Elizabeth is just truly tragic," said Don Egle, a spokesman for James Madison University.
A sign paying tribute to Elizabeth Nass hangs outside her sorority house. The 19 year old honor student and interdisciplinary studies major would have returned to Alpha Sigma Alpha within days.
"Our hearts go out to Elizabeth's family and friends. I can't imagine what they're dealing with right now," said Egle.
Nass and 19-year-old Rose Mayr, a nursing major at the University of Delaware, were spending a final evening together before returning to their respective universities. Nass posted a photo just minutes before their promising lives ended. They were on a railroad bridge, suspended high above Old Ellicott City.
Minutes before she died, Nass tweeted about her get-together with Mayr. At 11:40 p.m., 22 minutes before the CSX derailment, she posted: "Drinking on top of the Ellicott City sign with Rose petals" -that was her friend's Twitter handle.
And just one day before, Nass tweeted their upcoming plans: "Once more before I leave for school. You, me, handle of burnett's and some form of public transportation."
Sadly, even plans to take public transportation weren't enough to keep these two young women alive. Nass and Mayr were both from Ellicott City and graduated from Mount Hebron High School in 2010.