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Brandeis University student Vanessa Mark killed, 27 hurt in shuttle bus crash in Waltham

Brandeis University student killed in Waltham crash, 27 injured
Brandeis University student killed in Waltham crash, 27 injured 02:47

WALTHAM - Brandeis University student Vanessa Mark was killed and more than two dozen others were hurt when a university shuttle bus crashed in Waltham late Saturday night.

In a joint statement Sunday, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and Waltham Police Chief Kevin O'Connell initially said the bus was returning to campus from a hockey game at Northeastern University when it slammed into a tree on South Street around 10:30 p.m.

The school later clarified that the bus was operating as part of a regular shuttle loop to Cambridge and Boston and was not returning from Northeastern.

There no word yet on what caused the crash. "It's completely under investigation at this time," Waltham Fire Chief Andrew Mullin told WBZ-TV.

A witness told WBZ's Jordyn Jagolinzer the bus hit multiple trees and he heard screams afterwards. The bus was destroyed in the crash.

"One student was pronounced dead on scene. The remaining 26 students and the driver of the bus sustained injuries of varying degrees and were all transported to area hospitals," Ryan and O'Connell said in their statement. "No charges have been filed."

Read: Brandeis students come together after tragic crash

The university later identified the person who died as undergraduate student Vanessa Mark.

Brandeis president Ron Liebowitz said Mark was "currently on leave," but added that she was living in Waltham and "was an active and cherished member of the Brandeis community."

"We have been in touch with Vanessa's family and will continue to stay in contact with them in the coming days, and we will keep you updated about ways we will honor Vanessa's memory," Liebowitz said in a letter to campus Sunday.

"Given the number of injured people and the different hospitals to which they were transported, it is taking time to determine the status of everyone involved, including which passengers are Brandeis students," university spokesperson Julie Jette told WBZ in an email. She later said only five people were still in the hospital.

"I know that sadness over last night's fatal shuttle accident is rippling through our community today. We are all experiencing the shock of such a terrible accident, and everyone's recovery will take time," Liebowitz said.

"Adding to the difficulty of absorbing such painful news is the fact that we all have many unanswered questions at this time. We have been working with Waltham Police as the accident is investigated and will continue to be in close contact with the department. Nothing is more important than the safety of our students, and we are committed to learning all that we can about how this happened. University leaders will continue to share information as we learn more."

Jette said the university has notified students, faculty and staff about the crash and that they are "providing counseling and support to students."

"Given the tragedy that our community is experiencing, Brandeis has canceled classes scheduled for Monday and Tuesday (Nov. 21 and 22). This will enable some students to return to family and friends sooner than the normal holiday schedule would have allowed. For students who will remain on campus, we will have additional opportunities to gather and receive support," Jette said.

"It's really, really frightening to me because I am a person who uses the Boston to Cambridge shuttle frequently. I often times use it to go see my brother in Boston or he comes here to see me, and just to think if one of us were on that bus, it's incredibly, incredibly disturbing,"  Brandeis University senior Draken Garfinkel told WBZ Sunday.

Waltham Police are urging anyone who saw the crash or has information to call them immediately at (781) 314-3600.

Students can call the Brandeis counseling center at 781-736-3730 for help if needed.

A vigil will be held Sunday night at 7 at the chapel on campus.

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