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University Releases Update About Global Brigades Fatalities

Photo by Bradley Davison (CC '17)

Photo by Bradley Davison (CC ’17)

A few moments ago, President Lee Bollinger sent out an email providing details about the tragic accident that occurred in Honduras earlier today. More information can be found here.


The full message can be found below:

 I am very sorry to report that, earlier today, three members of the Columbia community died in a bus accident in Honduras.  Columbia College student Olivia Erhardt and Barnard College student Daniella Moffson lost their lives while volunteering for the Columbia chapter of Global Brigades, an organization providing medical and other support to struggling populations around the world.  Also lost in the accident was Abigail Flanagan, a nurse practitioner at Columbia University Medical Center and a General Studies student, who was a member of this humanitarian effort.  This terrible and tragic loss is all the greater because these individuals were dedicating their passion and very special talents to serving those in need.  No endeavor more proudly exemplifies the traditions and values of our University.

Other Columbia students were injured in the bus accident.  We are working to ensure that they are receiving all necessary medical attention.  Dr. Samuel Seward, Medical Director for Health Services, and other Columbia support personnel are on their way now to Honduras.  The students who were not badly injured and who are able to return to the United States are in the process of doing so.  We have contacted the families of all involved and are closely monitoring the situation to render all the help we can.

We are all deeply affected by this tragic event.  Counselors and specialists on the Columbia MorningsideBarnard, and Columbia University Medical Center campuses, as well as pastoral counseling through the Office of the University Chaplain, are available.  International students also can seek support or referrals through the International Students and Scholars Office.  Please take advantage of these services.

Our thoughts are especially with the students and their families who have suffered as a result of this accident.


UPDATED (1/14): The Undergraduate Deans have sent out an email announcing memorial services.

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

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