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Columbia College mourns the loss of three Columbia students

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

We were deeply saddened to report the death of three members of our community, Columbia College sophomore Olivia Erhardt, Barnard College junior Daniella Moffson, and Abigail Flanagan, a General Studies student and nurse practitioner at the Columbia University Medical Center. These students were in a bus accident while on a humanitarian mission in Honduras. Several other students were injured in the accident, and we are working to provide support and help them return home. Columbia medical personnel and College staff are traveling to Honduras overnight to provide on-site assistance.

As a reminder, the following resources are also available to students:

Counseling and Psychological Services - (212) 854-2878
Office of the University Chaplain - (212) 854-1493
CC/ SEAS Advising Deans - (212) 854-6378
CC/ SEAS Residential Life staff - (917) 881-7233

Below is a statement that the undergraduate deans sent to students on Jan. 14, 2016

Dear Students,

As you read in President Bollinger’s and President Spar's emails on Wednesday evening, Columbia College student Olivia Erhardt and Barnard College student Daniella Moffson died yesterday in a tragic bus accident in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, while on a volunteer mission organized by the humanitarian group Global Brigades. Abigail Flanagan, a General Studies student and nurse practitioner at CUMC, and the mother of Columbia College student Patrick Flanagan, was also killed.

This service trip involved students from all four of the undergraduate schools. Many of the students are still in Honduras. Columbia staff members have arrived in Tegucigalpa to provide on-the-ground support to students, and we are working collectively to ensure their safe return home.

We are all saddened by this tragedy, and we encourage you to rely on one another and your families and friends, as well as school and University offices for support. Please know that your advisers and deans, the staff at Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) and Furman Counseling Center, and members of the Office of the University Chaplain, are all available to provide you with any support you may need in dealing with this tragedy. We have listed their contact information for you below.

The University will hold a candlelight vigil at 6 p.m. Tuesday, January 19, on Low Plaza, for the Columbia community to reflect and to remember Olivia, Daniella and Abigail. The University will also fly flags at half-staff that day in recognition of this great loss to our community.

The Lerner Piano Lounge will be available as a place for students to come together on Saturday, January 16, and Monday, January 18, between 2 and 4 p.m. Later in the semester, we will work with families and friends to plan additional memorial services.

Our deepest condolences go out to all who knew Olivia, Daniella and Abigail. They will be in our thoughts in the days and weeks ahead.

Peter J. Awn
School of General Studies

Mary C. Boyce
Dean of The Fu Foundation School
of Engineering and Applied Science

Avis E. Hinkson
Dean of the College
Barnard College

James J. Valentini
Dean of Columbia College and
Vice President for Undergraduate Education

Staff, administrators and faculty are here to support you. As a reminder, the following resources are also available: