Local News

Former Chapel Hill student dies in marathon

Posted October 14, 2009 6:25 p.m. EDT

— A former East Chapel Hill High School valedictorian died Saturday while running the Baltimore Marathon.

Peter Curtin, 23, collapsed near the 25-mile mark of the race and was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. The Maryland State Medical Examiner's Office hasn't determined the cause of death.

Curtin graduated from Princeton University and was doing graduate studies in chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Friends said he wanted to cure cancer because his sister battled it in high school.

"If there was anybody that was ever going to do it, it would be Pete," said David Christopher, a friend from Chapel Hill.

Christopher called Curtin "a role model, a friend, a leader, a buddy. He was just a good kid."

While at East Chapel Hill High, Curtin was captain of the cross-country team and was a lacrosse goalie. Friends said the 2004 graduate also was a regular guy who was good at trivia and loved vanilla Coke.

"You would never know by talking to him that he has this repertoire of amazing things that he's done," friend Katie Edwards said.

Curtin trained extensively for the marathon, and friends said they are still trying to make sense of his death.

"It's still very confusing. There really isn't any logic and sense to any of this," Christopher said.

"I can't think of a negative thing he's done in his whole life. How is he the person that has to...." a sobbing Edwards said, her voice trailing off.

His friends said they are determined to remember Curtin by the way he lived and not how he died.

"Whenever I'm in a situation where I feel like I could step down or take the easy way out, I know I'm going to think of what Peter would do," friend Malcolm Ross said. "There wasn't ever one thing that Peter would do where he didn't give it his all."

Curtin's family has since moved to Wilmington. A memorial service is planned for Oct. 25 at Princeton.