A Penn State student was killed and four others were hospitalized after a motor vehicle accident in Bradford, Pa., Friday evening on their way to a THON canning trip, Penn State Spokeswoman Lisa Powers said.
Courtney O’Bryan, 18, of Huntington, N.Y., was a passenger in a car of five Penn State students traveling to Buffalo for a canning trip with Penn State’s Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, Powers said. O'Bryan was a freshman at Penn State, listed in the Penn State Directory as a student in the Division of Undergraduate Studies.
While passing through McKean County, the car hit a patch of black ice and flipped over, Powers said. Pennsylvania State Police and others in the area responded to the incident.
Pennsylvania State Police Cpl. Tim Lencer could not release the name of the individual who was driving the car but did say the driver was a male.
It is yet to be determined whether foul play or reckless driving occurred prior to the accident, Lencer said. He said police are performing a crash reconstruction, but a timeframe for when the results will be released has not been determined.
Crashes involving black ice are frequent during the winter months, Lencer said.
The driver and other passengers of the car have been hospitalized, according to a release on Penn State Live.
Lauren Bronstein (freshman-division of undergraduate studies), 19, will undergo surgery, according to the release. She was transported to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and is reported to be “in good condition,” Holly Auer, senior medical communications officer, said.
Jena Pardhan, 18, and John Edwards, 20, were taken to Bradford Medical Center and are expected to be released, according to the release. No addition information could be released about Pardhan (freshman-education) and Edwards (junior-crime,law and justice) at this time, according to a representative from the hospital.
Chris Toner, 21, was in Kane Community Hospital with various non-life threatening injures and is "reported to be doing well," according to the release. As of 3 p.m. Saturday, Toner (junior-crime, law and justice) was not at Kane Community Hospital, a representative from the hospital said.
According to the release, the university has contacted the families of the students involved, and Penn State Counseling and Psychological Services will be holding counseling sessions. Students are encouraged to contact CAPS or attend the sessions if they are affected by this weekend's accident. According to the release, more information about the CAPS sessions will be available later Saturday, and the CANHELP crisis line at 800-643-5432 is available at all times.
Penn State Vice President for Student Affairs Damon Sims wrote in email that he grieves for O’Bryan’s family, friends and everyone who knew her. As the father of a boy who died early in life, Sims said he knows that no tragedy compares to the loss of a child.
“That she died in the service of other children is a bitter irony. But it's also an example of the real and lasting good that Penn State students contribute every day,” Sims wrote. "Courtney's legacy is found in that same goodness and sense of purpose."
On behalf of Panhellenic Council, outgoing President Paige Rothaus said she is deeply saddened about the situation.
Rothaus (senior-advertising) added that she’ll make sure “our sorority women have their resources to cope with this in the coming days.”
For outgoing Interfraternity Council President Dan Florencio, the death of O’Bryan, a member of Sigma Delta Tau sorority, represents a huge loss to the greek community.
“My condolences go to the family and everyone else involved,” Florencio (senior-philosophy) said.
THON adviser Barry Bram said the morale of everyone involved in THON has dropped because of the tragedy.
THON Overall Chairwoman Elaine Tanella and THON Overall Public Relations Chairwoman Kirsten Quisenberry could not be reached for comment.