Student killed, three others injured, by allegedly drunk driver

7839  00 drew
Drew Esquivel '17 as shown in his Facebook profile picture

Andrew “Drew” Esquivel ’17 was killed and three others were seriously injured early Saturday morning in Brooklyn, NY, after an off-duty police officer, allegedly driving drunk, swerved off the road and struck the group on the sidewalk.

Three other pedestrians were in critical condition after the crash, including a current MIT student, an alumnus, and a woman affiliated with NYU. Sophia Tabchouri ’18, age 20; James Balchunas ’14, age 24; and Divya Menezes, age 23, were hospitalized and on Monday morning were listed as in stable condition.  

Nicholas Batka, 28, the driver of the vehicle, was arrested at the scene and charged with manslaughter, driving while intoxicated, and seven other counts. He was arraigned in court Saturday, and released after posting a $300,000 bond. Batka was due to start a shift at 7 a.m. that morning. He was suspended without pay from the force, and his driver’s license has been suspended.

In an email to the MIT community Monday afternoon, Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart PhD ’88 wrote, “I am inspired by our community’s outpouring of sympathy and heartfelt offers to help Drew’s family as well as Sophia, James and their families. We are a tightknit community, and we will continue to care for and turn to each other during this difficult period.”

The community notice had been delayed until the Esquivel family could be reached, she said.

Esquivel was a rising senior in Course 6-3. From Healdsburg, California, he was in New York for the summer interning at the mobile marketing firm, Appboy. Esquivel was a co-captain of the wrestling team, and a brother of Lambda Chi Alpha.

Friends described Esquivel as “an extraordinary thinker.” “He knew how to get things done, and he also knew how to laugh about it,” Harry Rein ’16 told The Boston Globe. “I just saw him rounding into a really, very successful human being.”

From noon to 2 p.m. today, MIT Chaplains will be available in W15 for prayer, support, and quiet reflection, Barnhart’s email said.