To the people who knew and loved him, Chase Meola was a lot of things.
He was the Energizer Bunny. He was the inventor of “Electric Tequila,” his very own cocktail creation, and he wanted to invent “long sleeve swim trunks” to wear at the beach so he never had to do leg day. He engaged in a friendly turf war with FedEx drivers and UPS men and drew everyone’s attention when he walked in the room. He saw the best in everyone and was curious about everything.
Between speeches and dances to Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer,” more than 300 people honored Meola’s life at a candlelight vigil on the Oval Sunday night.
“Chase was the most energetic person I’ve ever met,” Kris Skugor, a fifth-year in information systems, said. “He’s always dancing, he’s always trying to get people moving and smiling. And he, unlike anyone I’ve ever met, is made for that job.”
Meola, a fifth-year in marketing, died after he was shot at a party near Phi Kappa Psi fraternity on East 14th and Indianola Avenues early Sunday morning. The suspect, Kintie Mitchell Jr., was arrested and charged with Meola’s murder Sunday. Mitchell is not affiliated with Ohio State.
Dylan Fischer, a second-year in finance, was at the gathering and said Meola tried to get Mitchell and other unknown people to leave. When Mitchell pulled a gun, Fischer said Meola tried to stop him from firing it. Mitchell then shot Meola.
“He was an absolute hero, he fucking saved other kids from fucking dying,” Skugor, who was also at the gathering, said. “He did his best to save those kids’ lives, and he was the one who ended up fucking dying and it’s bullshit.”
Fischer said in the year and a half he knew him, Meola’s energy was his biggest impact.
Another one of Meola’s best friends, Austin Lucas, said Meola’s selflessness was a core part of his personality.
“He was the biggest badass I ever met,” Lucas said. “He always put himself second to the second he died; he risked his life for someone else, and I don’t know anyone else that’s touched as many people as this kid did.”
Lucas, an Ohio State alumnus, said he met Meola on the elevator their freshman year and immediately hit it off with him. From that point on, Meola was “always there” for him.
“Freshman year, in the elevator, I knew this kid would be one of my best friends for the rest of my life,” Lucas said. “He’s one of my best friends, and I’ll never forget him.”
Skugor said he also met Meola their freshman year. He walked into Meola’s dorm room and saw him doing pull ups off of the side of the bunk bed.
“Immediately I’m like ‘Who is this guy? What is going on?’” Skugor said.
Although the tears were abundant, so was the laughter.
The crowd burst into laughter as Victor Kasinec, a fourth-year in agribusiness and applied economics, recalled several Snapchats documenting Meola’s days as an Amazon delivery driver.
“There were some days where I would come home or just be so mad at work, so exhausted, and I would look to see Chase — either running from a dog, stopped by two logs in the middle of the road, yelling at a FedEx person, giving the UPS people shit — that’s the kind of guy Chase was. And that’s why we all love him,” Kasinec said.
Other speakers shared similar stories, telling anecdotes about chest day and teaching Meola how to say “What up, King?” in Punjabi.
Next to two photos of Meola, Ryan Dahlinghaus, a second-year in marketing, popped a bottle of champagne next to the William Oxley Thompson statue as a toast to Meola.
“He’s the type of guy you always want in the room,” Dahlinghaus said.
A GoFundMe fundraiser started by an anonymous person Sunday raised more than $41,000 from nearly 1,300 donors at the time of publication. According to the fundraiser’s page, the funds will be used to “cover any and all costs related to Chase’s funeral and to support his family.”
“He was everything, man. He was the best friend, he was loyal, he was there when you needed him, there when you didn’t need him. He was everything in one person, and I’m telling you right now there’s not a single person that could fill his shoes ever and it’s not even close,” Skugor said.
If you or someone you know is experiencing distress, resources are available.
- Counseling and Consultation Services: 614-292-5766, after-hours press option 2
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255
- National 24/7 Suicide Hotline: 800-784-2433
- Columbus Suicide Hotline: 614-221-5445
Mary Kidwell contributed reporting.
Correction: A previous version of this story stated that Ryan Dahlinghaus talked about Meola’s snapchats as an Amazon driver. Victor Kasinec was the one who shared this story.