A student died and six others were injured in a one-vehicle accident on the Pennsylvania Turnpike Sunday, Penn State University said.
The deceased, identified as Vitalya “Tally” Sepot, and the others were returning from collecting donations for the THON charitable campaign. University spokeswoman Lisa Powers said that the fatal crash occurred at 1:49 p.m. Sepot, a sophomore from Branford, was declared dead on the scene. She was majoring in graphic design and was part of a group of students from the Alpha Chi Omega sorority and the Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) fraternity.
In an email, Powers said, “We are so deeply saddened to learn of this tragic accident and we are mobilizing our student affairs response team and have begun to arrange counseling services for any student who may need those services.” According to Center Daily, the injured victims have been identified as Victoria Barrett, 18; Sarah Bixby, 18; Claire Fountas, 19; Matthew Hrynkow, 20; Brooke Kalodner, 18; and Max Titlebaum, 20. All six were transported to Paoli Hospital and sustained non life-threatening injuries.
“The Penn State community and all who know the good work done through student involvement in Thon are deeply saddened by this tragedy,” Penn State Vice President for Student Affairs, Damon Sims, said. “Our hopes are with the students injured, whose release from the hospital we are eager to see, but our hearts are with Tally’s family and friends, whose terrible loss we mourn.”
In a press release, Katie Mailey, THON 2016 executive director, said, “We are terribly saddened by this accident and our hearts are with the friends and family of Tally as well as other students who were involved in the accident. The loss of one of our volunteers and the injury of others is a tragedy and we know this will be felt throughout our community. No words can express our sorrow when learning of this accident and of Tally’s passing. We will do all that we can to honor her memory and dedication to Thon. We ask that everyone respect the privacy of individuals directly involved. This is a difficult time for many.”
THON is an effort to raise funds for and spread awareness about pediatric cancer. According to Penn State News, several weekends – known as “canning” weekends – are dedicated to soliciting donations in several communities. The group has raised in excess of $127 million in funds for people suffering from pediatric cancer and research since 1977.
Sepot is not the first student volunteer for THON who perished in a car crash. In December 2011, Courtney O’Bryan died in a fatal car crash. The vehicle she was traveling in struck black ice and flipped over near Bradford. O’Bryan, a freshman at that time, was with five other students. She died from the injuries she had sustained.
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