Brittany Russell, 27, of Bettendorf, was a kind, loving woman whose friends and family will miss the happy, helpful student who was attending Capri College, Davenport, they said Tuesday.
She was an employee of the Blackhawk Bowl and Martini Lounge, located inside, but managed separately from the Hotel Blackhawk, where she was pronounced dead late Sunday. Her death appears to be accidental, with no criminal indications, officers said.
Brooke Matykiewicz, 25, was Brittany's roommate. The last thing she said to Russell was "See you later," while Russell headed to work.
The two met in 2013 when they were waitresses at Buffalo Wild Wings in Macomb, Illinois, and were attending Western Illinois University there.
"She was the most loving, supportive person I've ever met," said Matykiewicz, a Western graduate who now is a case worker for Bethany for Children and Families, Moline. "I trusted that girl with my heart. Every time I had a bad day or a broken heart, I'd run to her."
Russell had brought her son to Bettendorf for a visit recently, Matykiewicz said.
Russell moved to Bettendorf to attend Capri College, Davenport, and her 5-year-old son stayed with her family in Roseville, Illinois.
"She was contagious," said Lori Wood, of Viola, Illinois, whose children, including Jacob Hull, went to school with Russell. "She never knew a stranger. She radiated personality in all the best ways. I think she left an imprint wherever she went."
Russell's friends from Roseville, Wood said, were more than close-knit: "These kids were family to each other." They continue to leave memories in tribute on her Facebook page.
Molly Elder, public information officer, said the Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has opened an inspection of the incident. OSHA has six months to complete it before further information is available.