The Chicago schoolteacher and a group of girlfriends she had known most of her life had scored tickets to a sold-out Haunted Hotel Ball at the Palmer House Hilton, and Duskey was going as glamorous superhero Silk Spectre from the movie "Watchmen."
Duskey, 23, and her friends were there half an hour on Saturday night when she playfully attempted to slide down a banister rail and fell four stories to her death, the Cook County medical examiner's office said.
"We had just gotten there," said Ellie Pessetto, a friend of Duskey's from childhood who had stepped away from the stairwell moments before Duskey fell. When Pessetto returned to the stairs, she saw two of her friends crumpled to the floor, in hysterics.
"I couldn't even understand what they were saying," Pessetto said. "Then someone said (Megan) fell."
A cousin of Duskey's had raced down the stairs and was holding Duskey's body when firefighters arrived, Pessetto said. Later, they noticed a mark on the cousin's arm where firefighters had had to pull her away from Duskey.
"(The cousin) just said, 'She's gone.' She knew she was gone," Pessetto said.
The medical examiner said Duskey died instantly of head trauma. Alcohol was not a factor in the accident, police said.
The fall took place at 10:30 p.m., bringing an end to the ball just hours after it had begun. The party, which had been set to run until 2 a.m. with more than 2,000 guests, included reserved tables that cost more than $1,000 apiece. Duskey and her group, which included a cousin, a college roommate and other close friends, got tickets from a friend whose company had paid for a table, Pessetto said.
"We were excited. It was a party in Chicago," said Pessetto, her eyes red from crying as she sat in the living room of her parents' house a few doors down from the Duskey family in south suburban Crete. "There was nothing going on around here (in Crete)."
Web sites advertising the event show partygoers at last year's event, held at the W Hotel downtown, dancing in costumes to pulsing dance music. On Sunday afternoon, a pair of latex monsters stood outside the State Ballroom doors as workers cleared away the faux cobwebs and decorations.
In Crete, friends and family gathered at the house of Duskey's parents. Her father, James, talked with relatives in the garage.
"I've had an hour of sleep. What do you want to know? She was a beautiful girl," Duskey said, before relatives shooed away reporters before he could give his name.
Palmer Hilton officials declined to comment, spokesman Ken Price said. Staff directed questions to the Chicago Police Department. Event promoters Global Adrenaline and Surreal Chicago did not respond to requests for comment Sunday.
Duskey taught special education classes at Bright Elementary School, 10740 S. Calhoun Ave. Crisis counselors will be at the Far South Side school Monday, Chicago Public Schoolsspokeswoman Monique Bond said.
Duskey loved children and talked constantly about her preschool students at Bright, Pessetto said.
"She just loved kids," Pessetto said. "She didn't always know what she wanted to do. But she always worked with kids, so (teaching) was just natural."
After the accident, the young women were swept into a room at the hotel. They were summoned out by firefighters, thinking they were going to the hospital to see Duskey. They soon learned that their friend had died, but were kept at the hospital until police let them go home about 4 a.m., she said.
Duskey graduated from Marian Catholic High School and then from Northern Illinois University in 2009 with a degree in early childhood education and special education, family spokeswoman Rita Miotti said in a statement. Duskey began teaching at Bright last year.
"Megan's passing is a tragic loss to her family and friends. She was a caring, energetic person who was full of life and eager to help others and make a difference in the world," according to the statement.
Pessetto said her friend was an athlete and often organized events for her tightknit circle of friends. Duskey was close to her two brothers.
"She liked parties. She was fun," Pessetto said. "I haven't really absorbed all this. ... I can't remember a time when I didn't know her."
Tribune reporters Carlos Sadovi and Jeremy Gorner contributed to this report.