Freshman remembered as ‘sweet’ and ‘caring’

Rebecca Kim died after falling from a Center City building last Thursday.

Rebecca Kim. Via Facebook
Rebecca Kim. Via Facebook

Isabell Choi and Rebecca Kim bonded over one thing in particular: mint chocolate chip ice cream.

The two quickly became friends at a church camp last summer when they took a trip to a local corner store for a midday snack. They were there for some time, and took off separate ways to look for something to munch on.

Of all the items to choose from, Choi and Kim chose the same ice cream. Same flavor, same size, same brand.

“We kind of clicked right away,” Choi, 17 of Pennington, New Jersey said.

Kim, an 18-year-old pre-pharmacy freshman, fell to her death from an eight-story Art Institute of Philadelphia dorm building at 1530 Chestnut St. while visiting friends on Jan. 15.

Choi found out the next day at school when she sat down for lunch.

“It was right before a chemistry test. Nothing but formulas were going through my head,” Choi  said. “And then I went through my Facebook.”

Police say Kim was leaning out of a window to take a picture when she “lost her footing” and fell onto a 44-year-old pedestrian around 6 p.m. Thursday. She was taken to Jefferson University Hospital where she was pronounced at 6:37 p.m.

The pedestrian, whose name is being withheld, was sent to Hahnemann University Hospital in stable condition.

At 5:52 p.m., moments before her death, Kim posted a message to her Facebook account that read, “It was intentional.” However, whether that status update was in reference to her fall remains unclear. Police could not be reached for comment on the matter on Monday because of the holiday, but said on Friday that no foul play was detected and the incident appeared to be accidental.

Kim graduated from Wissahickon High School last year, and was well-liked by her peers, said Principal Lyn Fields. Kim was also extremely involved in extracurricular activities there – she ran indoor track & field, was a member of National Honor Society, participated in science competitions and took honors and AP courses.

Fields described her as “sweet, caring and kind.”

“We’re struggling,” Fields said. “This is a kid that could have done anything.”

Fields said the school had a moment of silence for Kim on Friday and all seven of the schools’ counselors are available for the student body. A handful of students have already taken advantage of the services, Fields said.

Fields also said alumni who knew Kim are reaching out to the school.

“Everybody’s in shock,” she said.

President Theobald emailed a statement to the student body around 10 a.m. on Jan. 16 offering condolences and reminded students that counseling is available at Tuttleman Counseling Services.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends,” he wrote.

Police left the scene around 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 15 where business continued normally. Will Owens, a 23-year-old security guard at the H&M outside of which the incident occurred, said he didn’t see anything from the store but heard the murmurs from shoppers coming inside.

“A lot of people were shocked,” Owens said. “A lot of people couldn’t believe what happened.”

Other business managers that witnessed the scene declined to comment.

The Art Institute of Philadelphia could not be reached for comment.

Patricia Madej can be reached at 215.204.6737 or on Twitter @PatriciaMadej 

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