Gage Bellitto Wiki
Gage Bellitto Biography
Gage Bellitto was only 19 years old when, on December 27, 2017, he was found dead in his room in Columbia’s Carlton Arms building on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. He died of an accidental overdose.
That would be tragedy enough for any family. But for the Bellittos there was more anguish to come. Forensics set the time of death five days earlier, on December 22.
The find was a hammer blow. Because that was the day, driven by a sense of dread, Gage’s uncle, Doug Bellitto, went to his nephew’s bedroom and begged authorities to write a welfare check just for the application for he was repeatedly rejected.
Today, in an exclusive interview with DailyMail.com, Bellitto, 59, and his sister, Gage’s aunt, Robin Stettnisch, 55, describe Gage’s death and the wall of silence with which their pleas have been fulfilled. to Columbia, “touching”. ‘
The family of a Columbia University student who was found dead in his bedroom five days after authorities refused to conduct a wellness check have reported their devastation as they fight for answers and call for changes to school protocols that, they say, they left them powerless. before the tragedy.
Gage Bellitto, 19. was found dead in his room in Columbia’s Carlton Arms building on Manhattan’s Upper West Side on December 27, 2017
Bellitto said: ‘Gage was a bright, wonderful and hopeful young man, who was eager to build a life in New York City.
He loved his family, his parents, his sister, his aunt, and his uncle. He made some bad decisions and passed away from an accidental overdose in his bedroom.
“But I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to stop thinking that he could possibly have been saved when I was there that afternoon and no compassionate or responsible attempt was made to help me.”
The handsome and popular Gage had recently moved to Columbia where he was studying economics and in his sophomore year after completing his freshman year at Bates College, Maine. He had made Dean’s list on Bates, but Gage had Ivy League ambitions just like the rest of his family.
His father, Glenn, and his mother, Kyle Moran, graduated from Harvard and his older sister, Dale, 25, was a student at Dartmouth.
According to his uncle, “Gage was very excited to be in New York City at this Ivy League school and was hopeful for a career in finance, on Wall Street and he was doing his best to make that happen for himself.” .
But as hard as he worked, Bellitto admits, his nephew was not without problems. His family was aware that he was using drugs and was concerned about what they perceived to be a very real problem.
Gage had been prescribed several different medications to treat anxiety and attention deficit disorder. According to Bellitto, the prescriptions he had been given in his teens led him to opioids and addiction.
He said: ‘Unfortunately, that became a necessity for other substances. He had a drug problem and the whole family was involved in trying to help him, to do everything possible to give him the treatment he needed ”.
Doug, his brother Glen (sitting) and Gage are seen in a sweet snap from 2000. Glen died last year of Covid-19 after contracting it early in the pandemic
Gage grew up in Bronxville, a Westchester suburb where his mother still lives. In a double tragedy, his father, Glenn, a financier and Eastchester councilor, died last April from Covid-19 having contracted it early in the pandemic. He was 62 years old and according to her younger brother he had no comorbidities, his only “vulnerability”, Bellitto said, was his broken heart.
Gage trusted Bellitto enough to talk to him about his drug use. He went with his uncle to the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation Outpatient Center in Chelsea the summer before his death.
Bellitto recalled: ‘We went to this evaluation and Gage was very honest about using him and the counselor told him that he sounded like an occasional college drug user and that his treatment program was certainly not appropriate for him.’
For Bellitto it was a view that minimized the problem. He said: ‘For me, any drug problem is potentially a big problem. But Gage got the message that he was just an occasional drug user in college and [he took the attitude], ‘So why is anyone worried about me?’
Over the next few months, the family watched Gage’s health deteriorate as his drug use accelerated.
Bellitto said: ‘In October  he collapsed in his bedroom and had to be rushed to hospital.’
Bellitto does not know the details of what Gage had taken and, at 19 years old, Gage did not have to share them with his family.
But, he said, ‘I would have thought it was certainly indicating [to Columbia] that it was a student who was having some kind of problem.’
Under his concerned eyes, Gage distanced himself further from his family. He decided to spend the holidays at the university instead of going home. It was a decision that hurt the family but, although he got off the radar as far as his parents were concerned, he kept in touch with his uncle in the city.
Bellitto explained: ‘He was still in contact with me because he lived in the city and he trusted me. So in December, I was doing my best to keep an eye on him, to keep in touch, to make sure he knew that I was a safe place for him. I am also his godfather, we are a Sicilian family and that is an especially powerful bond. ‘
Bellitto recalled, ‘In the days leading up to Christmas Eve I was calling him and texting him trying to finalize our plan and I wasn’t hearing back. And I just thought that was odd.’ This prompted him to go to the school and request a welfare check
Dejected and distraught, Bellitto started to walk back to the subway, but said: ‘Halfway there I thought’ No. I will not accept this. ” ‘
He retraced his steps and appealed to the dorm manager once more, this time man to man.
He explained: ‘I framed it as, whatever the university’s protocols are around this, let’s put that aside please, and as another human being, could you come up and knock on their door? And he said, ‘No.’ He said that he was out of his “jurisdiction”.
And I left, defeated. And that was the day Gage died.
Gage was last seen alive in surveillance footage at approximately 10:30 pm on December 21 and did not leave his room again after that.
Five days after Bellitto’s visit, Gage’s mother, Kyle, was forced to file a missing person report for a well-being check on her son. She had gone to her bedroom and was outside when they found the body of her son.
What made the process even more difficult is that the Columbia administration did not acknowledge at all that I was in the bedroom asking to have my nephew searched on the day of his death.
Today the family is haunted both by questions Columbia cannot answer and questions they will not answer.
Bellitto said: ‘Could it have been saved if someone had helped me? If someone had helped me with compassion? And if he was already dead, but someone had written the welfare check, at least my sister-in-law would have spared the agony, five days later, of finding the body of her son in her bedroom.
Three years have passed since that horrible week. During that time, Bellitto and his sister Robin have exchanged dozens of emails, amounting to thousands of words, with the leadership of Columbia University.
They have not received a direct response from the school’s president, Lee Bollinger, neither an acknowledgment nor an explanation of what happened on December 22.
Nor have they received an answer to their repeated question as to whether the same thing could happen to another family.
Bellitto said: “ This was a moving experience for the family, not just me, and what makes it even more difficult to process, accept and move on is that there has been no recognition by the Columbia administration of that I was in the bedroom asking to have my nephew checked on the day of his death.
‘There has been no explanation for those horrible events. And there has been no follow-up explaining what protocols may have been changed since that day so that another student does not die unnecessarily and family members have the ability to monitor or have their children checked when there is a crisis situation. ‘
Bellitto and his sister returned to Gage’s bedroom on the first anniversary of his death. Bellitto thought, angry as he was, that the dorm manager might have some remorse or regret for his inaction that day. He wanted clarity and so he asked to speak to the man.
Bellitto recalled: ‘I told him:’ Now that we are a year ahead, would you have done something different that day, knowing what the result was? ‘And he said,’ No, and I don’t even know. why are we discussing this. ” And at that moment he turned his back and walked away.