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Yale Student Killed in Lab Machine Accident

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on April 18, 2011 6:51 AM

It's a sad day when a promising young woman is killed in a freak accident while contributing to the very field to which she has dedicated much of her life.

Michele Dufault, a Yale physics and astronomy major, was killed sometime late Tuesday while working in a student machine laboratory on Yale's campus.

Her death was a result of her hair becoming caught in a piece of machinery.

As part of its science programs, Yale provides students with access to a laboratory in which they can construct and modify research instruments, reports USA Today.

The lab's website instructs that access is strictly limited to those who have taken a full shop course.

One would assume that Michele Dufault had taken the class, as ABC News reports that she was working with a metal lathe, which is used to cut materials.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is currently investigating whether the lab was in compliance with federal safety regulations, notes USA Today.

Determining Yale's compliance is an important of assigning liability for Michele Dufault's death. If the school followed federal regulations and properly trained students, it probably wasn't negligent and therefore can't be held responsible for the accident.

Even so, we're often quick to translate tragic accidents into monetary sums, even when no one is at fault. This may be one of those times where people need to instead focus on the deceased.

By all accounts, Michele Dufault was a brilliant student and great person, involved with a host of activities and a frequent participant in prestigious science programs. She was also expected to graduate this spring.

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