German student Tugce Albayrak died on Friday after her parents removed the life support machine following the attack that led to her coma. Albayrak was beaten and suffered head trauma after defending teen girls in a McDonald’s bathroom in Germany. She was accosted in the parking lot of the restaurant by one of the men who had been harassing the other teen girls.
Thousands of people honored her courage, and lamented the young woman’s death on what would have been her 23rd birthday. Of Turkish descent, the student was attacked two weeks ago and was declared brain dead. The brain injury resulted in her death.
An autopsy is set to reveal the exact cause of Albayrak’s death. It is unclear if the young woman was beaten with a bat or if she suffered her head injuries after falling to the ground from a beating. Police are still investigating the matter, and are hoping to receive more information from witnesses that night. A Serbian man, referred to as Sanel M., has been held in custody in association with the student’s death.
According to German public radio station Deutsche Welle reports that her attacker confessed to the beating.
Yakup Simseki, a member of a support group for Tugce, stated, “She showed great moral courage, stood up and helped, and I really hope that won’t be forgotten. It’s simply not ok for a guy to raise his hand against a girl, that’s the reason I’m here.”
About 100,000 people have signed a petition in hopes that Albayrak receives the German Order of Merit award. In recognition of her courage to stand up during a civil distress, supporters want her death to encourage others to continue helping citizens in need. In social media, many worry that her death confirms the fear many have to be a “Good Samaritan” for a stranger.
German President Joachim Gauck described Albayrak as a “role model.”
He wrote to her parents in solidarity with the rest of the country, expressing heartfelt shock and sympathy.
“Like countless citizens, I am shocked and appalled by this terrible act. Tugce has earned gratitude and respect from us all. She will always remain a role model to us, our entire country mourns with you. Where other people looked the other way, Tugce showed exemplary courage and moral fortitude.”
On Sunday, a vigil was held on Oranienplatz in Berlin, and many posters with supportive quotes and pictures showed the young woman in her early 20s as a smiling spirit.
[Photo courtesy of Anadolu Agency / Getty Images / Buzzfeed]