Recent college grad killed by falling tree 3 days into new job

'I felt like the world truly is going to be a little bit dimmer because Kahlil is not here to give his skills.'

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A young physics researcher was tragically killed by a falling tree outside a COVID testing lab in the Bay Area where he had recently began working.

Kahlil Gay, 23, graduated from Cal State East Bay in December and was looking forward to a bright future in physics or engineering. But tragedy struck on Friday, March 5, when a tree fell on him as he walked with a colleague outside his new workplace in Burlingame, California.

“At a very early age, he knew that he wanted to be in the physics or engineering field. He knew actually where he was going in life,” said the victim’s aunt, who declined to provide her first name, per KPIX 5.

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“Kahlil had just called his parents to check in (before the accident),” she continued. “(His mother and father are) not eating and just not being able to think clearly. You have a 23-year-old son who did everything in life right, followed the plan, took the coaching, went in the direction of greatness, and he’s not here.” 

“I felt like the world truly is going to be a little bit dimmer because Kahlil is not here to give his skills, and his love, and his knowledge,” the aunt added.

Gay was only on his third day working at Color, a Bay Area company that conducts COVID-19 testing for several San Francisco sites. He called his family hours before his death in the freak accident. 

“He was very excited, and we talked about the benefits and what he was going to be doing in the lab, and he was very excited because it was for sure going to be for a good cause,” said Darrl Gay, Kahlil’s brother. “If he really loved something, he’s going to put his complete 1,000% into whatever he’s handling.”

“He died instantly and that was the last time his family ever heard back from him until they received the heartbreaking news,” said Nadira Gay, Kahlil’s aunt.

Authorities suspect windy weather weakened the tree’s rotting roots’ which caused it to come crashing down on Gay. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

“He just always had a smile on his face and was very positive. I never experienced him being negative,” Nadira said.

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‘A Color spokesperson released a statement: “We are devastated and heartbroken by the tragic loss of a member of the Color team. Our team is in shock and grieving this incredible loss. Our deepest sympathies are with his family and friends, including those he worked with here at Color.”

Dan Tsang, senior vice president for operations & development at Alexandria Real Estate — which owns and manages the property where the tree fell — also released a statement: “We were shocked and saddened to learn of the accident that occurred during Friday’s windstorm, which tragically resulted in this accidental death. We are working with the authorities to determine exactly how this accident occurred. However it happened, it is heartbreaking, and our deepest condolences go out to the loved ones of this individual.”

Gay’s family said no one from either company has reached out to them but a spokesperson for Color said the CEO called Kahlil’s parents to offer condolences.

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