On January 6, 2013, just before midnight, CMC junior Tamar Kaplan passed away due to injuries resulting from a car accident while traveling in Bolivia. Kaplan and her close friend and classmate, Haley Patoski ’14, were touring Bolivia in a Land Rover after their semesters abroad when they got into an accident that left Kaplan in critical condition. Fortunately, Patoski was largely unharmed, though badly bruised.

According to information released on Kaplan’s CaringBridge website, doctors initially reported a broken femur and clavicle, and partial collapse of the right lung. During the attempt to transport Kaplan to La Paz, Bolivia’s capital city, her condition worsened, and her lungs began filling with fluid. Kaplan lost consciousness and was brought to a hospital in Oruro, Bolivia, three hours away from La Paz. After putting her on a ventilator, doctors further determined that she had extensive damage to both lungs, broken ribs, and more broken bones than originally thought.

On Saturday, January 5, Kaplan’s father, Dr. Danny Kaplan, flew to Potosi, where Kaplan was first admitted for care. He accompanied her on the ride to La Paz.

Kaplan (center) with classmates Lynsey Chediak ’14 (left) and Haley Patoski ’14 (right)

Late on January 6, Kaplan’s family released the following journal entry by way of the CaringBridge website: “Dear Friends, Tamar never regained consciousness, and passed away peacefully just before midnight on January 6th. Her dad was with her. Thank you for all your support and love, Maya, Danny, Liat, and Netta.”

Kaplan’s CaringBridge website is a resource for all who wish to stay connected with the Kaplan family, offer condolences, or share stories about Kaplan’s life.

On campus, Kaplan was a brilliant student, as well as a member of the PPE program, a Mock Trial champion, a McKenna Scholar, and a humanitarian. Kaplan battled social injustice in high school through a Minneapolis non-profit called The Advocates for Human Rights, then later at CMC through her involvement with SOURCE (Student Outreach Utilizing Resources and Community Exchange), where she served as student manager.

Kaplan wrote home from Ecuador earlier this semester, in a piece published on the Forum titled “Letters to Home: What I (Don’t) Miss About Green Beach.”

The breadth of Kaplan’s undergraduate activities demonstrates how strangely adept she was at nearly every activity she undertook.  Her many achievements are praised in full in an email message sent to the CMC community by Dean of the Faculty Gregory Hess.  The absence of such a bright personality and well-respected student on CMC’s campus will be sorely felt.  Testaments to Kaplan’s humor, charm, intelligence, and good nature dominated social media on Monday, a sign that Kaplan’s shining character will be deeply missed.

The email sent to the student body is posted below in its entirety:

Dear Members of the CMC Community,

It is with great sadness that I must inform all of you about the loss of a wonderful, young member of our community, junior Tamar Kaplan ’14, who died Sunday night in a Bolivian hospital due to complications from an automobile accident. Tamar had been on a private tour in rural Bolivia when the accident occurred.

Words truly cannot express the sorrow we feel for Tamar’s grieving family and for our community, which has lost one of its best. Tamar’s journey to South America was only the most recent of many achievements by which the twenty-year-old Minnesotan distinguished herself during her impressive undergraduate career at CMC.

A recipient of a merit-based McKenna Achievement Award, Tamar was a Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) major with a deep commitment to serving the disadvantaged. She was an award-winning member of CMC Mock Trial and had been involved with The Advocates for Human Rights, a Minneapolis-based non-profit organization addressing social injustice in the U.S. and abroad.

Tamar’s hunger for social justice also extended locally to her work as one of two managers of Student Outreach Utilizing Resources and Community Exchange (SOURCE), a student-founded and entirely student-run organization that helps nonprofit groups in need of help.

Tamar managed her busy schedule and all of her commitments with grace and a rich compassion that knew no bounds. Friends of Tamar recall not only the adventurous spirit that led her to study last fall in Quito, Ecuador, but also her warmth and gentle smile.

Our College prides itself on being a close-knit, intimate family, and I ask all of you now to join me in expressing our deepest condolences to Tamar’s parents, Drs. Daniel T. Kaplan and Maya Hanna, and the rest of their family during this painful time. Arrangements are now being made for a memorial service in Tamar’s honor to be held on campus, and we will notify everyone in the entire CMC community with more information as soon as it becomes available.

If you wish to send a card or note to Tamar’s family, please send it to my attention and I will make sure that it is forwarded to the Kaplan family.


Gregory D. Hess
Dean of the Faculty

Editor’s Note: The Forum staff would like to offer its condolences to Tamar’s friends and family. We entreat students to visit the CaringBridge website, whether to leave a story, make a donation, or simply pay respects. Additionally, we welcome students to share uplifting stories about Tamar’s life by posting them in the comment section below. Some stories may be compiled for a later tribute.  She was a girl well worth knowing, with a life well worth remembering. 


  1. May she Rest In Peace. Wish I had gotten to know her, seems like she was an all-around great person.

  2. This is so unbelievably tragic. Still cannot come to terms with it. One memory I have with Tamar was from my sophomore year. I remember I was driving with Tamar and Gavin Landgraf in the car. Gavin was talking about something smart — I think it was artificial intelligence actually. I remember thinking to myself, “holy crap this guy is so smart. I know nothing about this, I am getting super lost in all the terms he is throwing around, but at least this girl doesn’t either.” Then Gavin finished speaking for a moment and in jumped Tamar. Not only did she add onto some of Gavin’s points and counterargue some others, but she then started throwing around even more terms I did not know. She threw in names I didn’t know. She referenced papers on topics I didn’t know about by scientists I had never heard about. Her delivery was not at all pretentious; she was just very excited to share what she knew. And I was glad she did–being around her made me a smarter person and a better person. This was the beginning of her freshman year, no less. I knew at the end of that car ride that CMC’s future was in great hands with students like Tamar who were so smart, modest, and fun. She was the ultimate CMCer and I am forever grateful for this memory and the many others I was able to make being around Tamar.

  3. Wow, so terrible. I did not know her, but my condolences to those who did, and to her family.

  4. This is so sad and terrible. I actually knew Tamar from way back in elementary school. Now, by coincidence, I currently attend Pomona College and never knew that she was a student at CMC.

    My greatest condolences to her family and friends.

  5. Tamar was the sort of person you only had to talk to for 15 minutes to know she was going amazing places. She was an integral part of our campus community and an unforgettable personality. Her empty seat will be a painful sight for a long time to come. I know that Tamar is in the thoughts of many of us this week, and I offer my most profound condolences to her loved ones.

      • People die every six seconds around the world. When it’s someone you know, or family, it’s tragic. Motor vehicles are cause the death of hundreds every day. I suggest a better form of transportation, bicycles. Does this sound like a joke?

        • That may be true, but now is not the time. I’m sure you can find another article or forum for such a discussion. Let us all have some compassion, sensitivity and tact, and pay tribute to a wonderful person who was lost much too soon, and keep her grieving family in our thoughts.

  6. For those who didn’t receive the CMC DOS email, here’s an excerpt with the information about the upcoming memorial:

    Please join us for a memorial service in Tamar’s honor on:

    Friday, February 8, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    In McKenna Auditorium with a reception following in the Athenaeum.

    Tamar’s parents, Maya and Danny, and her sisters, Netta and Liat, would like to meet Tamar’s CMC friends, professors, mentors and the rest of our community as we come together to remember and celebrate the wonderful woman she was.

  7. very sad to hear this. i knew her in high school and she sure did suck the marrow out of life.

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