3 Student Pharmacy Volunteers Killed in Honduras Bus Crash

Three students on a mission trip involving volunteer work at a pharmacy were recently killed in a bus crash in Honduras.

Three students on a mission trip involving volunteer work at a pharmacy were recently killed in a bus crash in Honduras.

On January 13, 2016, the bus crashed into a ravine while taking the students to the airport to fly home to the United States. The cause of the accident has not been confirmed, but a local fire department told The New York Times that it may have been because of a “mechanical failure.”

Olivia Erhardt was a student at Columbia University, and Daniella Moffson had attended Barnard College. Nurse practitioner Abigail Flanagan was employed by Columbia University Medical Center and was also a general studies student.

“We are in the process of determining the full extent of the injuries sustained by the bus passengers and contacting the families of our students,” stated a Columbia University press release, referring to the remaining students who were injured in the crash. “Columbia medical and support personnel are traveling to Honduras overnight to provide additional on-site assistance.”

The mission trip was associated with Global Brigades’ Honduras medical program, in which volunteers shadowed doctors in medical consultations and helped out in a pharmacy under the direction of licensed pharmacists, according to the program’s website. One of the volunteers’ tasks in the pharmacy was packing medications.

Steven Atamian, co-founder and chief empowerment officer of the Global Brigades Association, issued a statement saying the company was “deeply saddened” by the incident.

“Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to all those affected by this tragedy,” Atamian wrote.

Columbia’s student news website provided a statement from Columbia President Lee Bollinger, who said some students who were not badly injured were making their way back to the United States.

He noted that the Columbia and Barnard campuses offered counseling services and pastoral counseling, as well.

“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,” Bollinger wrote. “No endeavor more proudly exemplifies the traditions and values of our university.”

Barnard President Debora Spar and Dean Avis Hinkson also released a statement noting that 4 other Barnard students were on the trip but were safe and heading home soon.

“We know that this news is extraordinarily upsetting,” their statement read. “…We will provide further information to the community as it becomes available. For now, we join with all members of our community in mourning Daniella, Olivia, and Abigail, and send our deepest condolences to their families, friends, and colleagues.”