Emerson student dies from severe brain injury after fight, family says

BOSTON — An Emerson student, severely injured after a weekend scuffle, had died, according to his family.

The sad news comes less than three days after he was hit and fell hard to the ground on Park Vale Avenue in Allston.

Daniel Hollis' sister, Kate Hollis, says her family and other loved ones were gathering in the past few days, trying to soak up what time they have left with him. A beaming smile, athletic gifts and a bright future were all halted after an incident Saturday morning.

Through a statement on the website Caring Bridge, Kate Hollis announced her brother had passed away at 5:32 p.m. on Wednesday, saying:

"Our beautiful boy's journey ended this evening at approximately 5:32 p.m. True to his caring and giving nature, Daniel chose to be an organ donor. We pray that his gifts will prevent other families from experiencing the heartbreak we are currently experiencing. Our deepest appreciation foes to all who have kept us in their thoughts and prayers. We ask you now to turn those prayers and good wishes to the many friends and family who have to learn how to live life with a little less sunshine."

Hollis’ mother posted to Caring Bridge that her son left a party with friends in Allston, and they were confronted by other men of college-age. Words were exchanged, she said, leading to a fight. Daniel was hit, fell hard to the brick and concrete ground.

He was taken to a hospital with serious head injuries, and diagnosed with a blood clot, along with damage to different parts of his brain. Doctors performed surgery, but he was in a coma and was not expected to regain consciousness.

This is devastating news for his family and those in Mendon and Hopedale - where Daniel grew up and where he attended school, respectively - who care about him, like his high school lacrosse coach.

"I am destroyed inside, but I am trying to stand in front of everyone to make sure that everyone understands that it’s not a news clip of a kid who got in a bar fight. That's not who Dan is," Hopedale lacrosse coach Eric Moxim said. "That's not even what happened.”

Daniel played lacrosse for Emerson.

"He was everyone's favorite person, there was never ever, ever, ever any situation that wasn’t made better with Dan Hollis," Moxim said.

Students at Emerson College are only beginning to understand what happened to Hollis. As the news of the tragedy spreads across campus, some professors have said they understand if some students can't attend class.

"It's been a fantastic reception from both our president and our faculty to really give the students the time to deal with it in the way they feel is best," said Liam Federico, an Emerson student.

A college spokesperson sent a statement, which read, "The Emerson College community’s thoughts and support are with Dan’s friends and loved ones during this difficult time."

"He famously said to me as an 8th grader, 'Coach I just love to smile,'" said Coach Moxim. "He couldn’t not smile, he had problems not skipping when he walked, he was pure sunlight."

Emerson University President Lee Pelton sent the following letter:

Dear members of the Emerson College community,

Over the weekend, a member of our community, Daniel Hollis ’22, was involved in an altercation off campus that resulted in Dan suffering a life-threatening head injury. A member of the men’s lacrosse team and a Marketing Communication major, Dan underwent emergency surgery and is currently surrounded by his loving friends and family.

The College is devastated by this news and is sending thoughts and prayers to Dan, his family, and his loved ones as they endure this very difficult period.

His family has asked that we focus on the following: “his infectious smile, his goofy sense of humor, his love for music, hockey, lacrosse and most importantly his love for his friends and family.” 

I encourage us all to do so.


Lee Pelton 

Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins' Office is working closely with the Boston Police Department to learn more about what happened that night, "The investigation into the events that occurred on Park Vale Avenue in the early morning hours of September 28 is ongoing.  This Office is working closely with the Boston Police Department as the investigation into this tragedy continues.  We offer the victim's family our heartfelt condolences and will provide more information when, or if, it is appropriate."

Following the news of Daniel's death, Emerson College will have counselors available during the day on Thursday and their Center for Spiritual Life will be open until 9 p.m. on Wednesday. A community vigil will be held at noon on Thursday in the Semel Theatre.

The investigation is active as police try to figure out who did this to Daniel, but so far have not released much insight into the investigation.

"I’m assuming that Boston Police, if they’re not looking for the public’s help, they’ve got witnesses who saw what happened, they have potential subjects who were engaged in what happened and they’re conducting interviews and reviewing the forensic evidence," said Law Enforcement Security Expert Dan Linskey.

Linksey says the Suffolk County DA could still be building a case, to see whether charges would be filed, especially now that there's been a death.

"If somebody punches me and I push back to get them away from me, and they trip and fall and strike their head, those actions are tragic, but may not be criminal," said Linskey.