NEW YORK — A 2008 Downingtown West High School graduate died mysteriously in lower Manhattan over the weekend, according to New York newspapers.
The body of 22-year-old Emily Singleton, who moved to New York to pursue a career in theater, was found on the tracks on the No. 1 train Sunday below Canal Street in Manhattan. Police said she entered the subway sometime around 1 a.m. Sunday, but her body was not discovered until a passerby notified authorities around 1:30 p.m.
Singleton was living near Prospect Park in Brooklyn. She moved there in September 2012, when she enrolled at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theater after graduating from Bucknell University. Family members told a New York newspaper that the young woman was following her dream of making it on Broadway.
The young actress was fondly remembered as a vibrant and talented performer. She scored the lead role as Belle in Downingtown West’s production of “Beauty and the Beast” during her senior year, and friends remembered her as someone who was always quick to crack a smile in any situation.
“Cheerfulness broke through everyday in Emily’s life, regardless of the circumstances. Her short but beautiful life is worthy of much celebration,” said Phil Minissale, a 2005 Downingtown graduate who knew Singleton from the school’s theater program. “I will remember her infectious smile in the high school auditorium during our most stressful rehearsals before shows.”
Others remembered Singleton as a dedicated friend and a breathtaking talent. Tim Zimmermann, another Downingtown West graduate and avid musician, remembered meeting Emily when she became one of the first supporters of his band. She eventually became one of his closest friends. He said she came to all his band’s shows, helped sell merchandise, and even became a valued critic who would always be one of the first to listen to the band’s early recordings.
Zimmermann also remembered his reaction when he saw her perform as Belle in 2008.
“She was breathtaking. She absorbed the role and you could swear she was Belle. I’d never seen anyone do theater like her,” he said. “She could sing beautifully, and dance, and act. And her laugh was infectious.”
Zimmermann also spoke about Singleton’s impact on those around her, and how difficult it was not to smile when in her presence.
“You would have to try to be angry around her if you were mad – you’d have to force yourself not to smile around her,” he said. “And the coolest thing was she didn’t have to try to be like that, that’s just how she was. She was disarming in a way. She would let me put up all of my defenses and be reticent and everything, then when I was done she’s still smiling and laughing at me and I have no choice but to cheer up.”
The cause of Singleton’s death was not immediately clear. Some reports cited sources who said the young woman fell off the platform and hit her head on the tracks below. Her body was found curled up in a trough below the tracks. It was not determined if the young student was struck by a train, or if she had died from injuries suffered when she fell off the platform onto the tracks below.
Police did not rule the death as a homicide, opting instead to classify the incident as a “death on arrival,” according to the New York Times.
Singleton was also a member of Downingtown West’s chorus and dance programs during her time in high school. An avid performer, friends and relatives said the finality of her death was difficult to comprehend. All agreed she was well on her way to realizing her dream of performing on Broadway, but expressed sorrow that they would never have the opportunity to watch her sing and dance under the city’s bright lights.