Nurse gunned down on Nashville interstate was a star athlete, beloved MICU team member

Crime Tracker

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – We are learning more about the young nurse gunned down on Interstate 440 in Nashville.

Police say 26-year-old Caitlyn Kaufman was found shot and killed Thursday night on the interstate; she was on her way to work at Saint Thomas West. 

Kaufman was from the small city of Chicora, Pennsylvania, in Butler County. She was a student council officer and 2012 honors graduate of Butler Senior High School, according to the principal there who says their thoughts and condolences go out to Kaufman’s family.

Kaufman was also a diver, a star performer on the school’s swim team, traits she carried with her to college at Clarion University.

The Sports Information Director released the below statement to News 2:

“Clarion University and the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics is saddened to learn of the tragic loss of Caitlyn Kaufman. Caitlyn embodied all of the characteristics of a model student-athlete while a member of the women’s swimming and diving program. She was a tenacious competitor, a supportive teammate and a dedicated student. Our thoughts remain with Caitlyn’s family, as well as her former teammates and coaches, during this difficult time.” 

Sean Fagan, Clarion University Sports Information Director

Kaufman lived in Lebanon and began working as a nurse in the ICU at Saint Thomas West nearly two years ago, according to her Facebook page. A representative with Ascension Saint Thomas released the following statement to News 2: 

“We are devastated to learn of the tragic and sudden passing of our ICU nurse Caitlyn Kaufman. She was a dedicated and much loved member of our MICU team and a courageous healthcare hero who was graciously called to serve our patients with compassion and kindness. Our hearts and prayers go out to her family, friends, and you, her colleagues, as we all grieve her heartbreaking passing. Ascension Saint Thomas has Chaplains and other support resources available at sites of care for grief counseling.”

Ascension Saint Thomas

Kathleen Murphy, Director of Government Affairs for the Tennessee Nurses Association says while Kaufman wasn’t a part of their association, frontline workers and nurses are a community. 

“You know, to lose a nurse during this time is very difficult for the nursing community in this way, in any way and especially when she was on her way to work that just makes it a lot harder foe her coworkers as well,” said Murphy. 

Kaufman’s colleagues are already mourning the loss of another ICU nurse just last week to COVID-19. 

Kaufman is the third employee killed in just four years that worked at Saint Thomas West. In December 2016, 26-year-old Ashley Brown was strangled and beaten to death. Her body was found dumped in a trash can near Centennial Park. Her killer has still not been found.

A few months later, 23-year-old Tiffany Ferguson, also an ICU nurse, was found brutally stabbed to death inside her Wedgewood condo. Her killer is serving life in prison. 

Metro Police are now pleading for help finding Kaufman’s killer. Police believe the shooting happened sometime during the 6 p.m. hour on I-440 West between the Hillsboro Pike and West End Avenue exits. Anyone who may have information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 615-74-CRIME.

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