The Brandeis University community is in mourning and “shock” after a student was killed in a bus crash that also injured 26 other students and the driver, who was behind the wheel as the shuttle slammed into a tree Saturday night.
The student who was killed in the bus crash was identified on Sunday as Vanessa Mark, according to police and university officials. Mark was an undergraduate student, who was currently on leave and living in Waltham.
She “was an active and cherished member of the Brandeis community,” President Ron Liebowitz wrote to the university community on Sunday.
“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,” the university president added.
Police are investigating the Saturday night crash in Waltham involving a shuttle bus that was transporting 27 Brandeis students.
The preliminary investigation shows that the Boston/Cambridge shuttle crashed into a tree on South Street at about 10:32 p.m.
Mark was pronounced dead at the scene. The remaining 26 students and the driver of the bus sustained injuries of varying degrees, and were all transported to area hospitals.
On campus Sunday morning, students coalesced in small huddles, hugging, crying and trying to piece together the details of the crash.
“It’s been very somber,” Brandeis student Shoshana Soloman said after an information session on the tragedy. “It was pretty chaotic last night, and I think overnight people have really been taking it in — very upset, very in shock.”
Nobody got much sleep after the news broke, said fellow student Sasha Astrof. Instead they gathered in each others’ rooms, rapidly checking in on friends and classmates.
“It’s a very small community,” said Astrof, looking around at the clumps of students filling the space. “We all know each other. We’re all friends, or friends of friends.”
On one wall, students filled a poster with messages of support and love to the community and victims. After remarks, many students broke off to join a prayer group.
“At this moment, everyone’s been trying to be with each other, to support one another,” Soloman said.
A small group of students quietly ventured to the crash site about a mile off campus Sunday afternoon.
Though a crane lifted the bus away, glass, mechanical debris and wrecked trees still covered the area, and a single bouquet of flowers on the sidewalk marked the location.
“I know that sadness over last night’s fatal shuttle accident is rippling through our community today,” Liebowitz wrote. “We are all experiencing the shock of such a terrible accident, and everyone’s recovery will take time.”
Classes scheduled for Monday and Tuesday have been canceled ahead of Thanksgiving break.
“Adding to the difficulty of absorbing such painful news is the fact that we all have many unanswered questions at this time,” the president wrote. “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.”
The cause of the crash remains under investigation by the Middlesex DA’s Office, Waltham Police, Mass State Police detectives assigned to the DA’s Office, and the Mass State Police Crash Reconstruction Section.
No charges have been filed, according to police.
Waltham Police are urging anyone who may have witnessed this accident or have any information to contact the Waltham Police Department at 781-314-3600.