A Harvard University student was killed and at least one other student was seriously injured early Monday in a three-vehicle crash in New Jersey as the college’s mock trial team was returning from a weekend competition in Virginia, campus officials said.
Angela Mathew, a 20-year-old junior from Albuquerque studying neurobiology, died in the accident, according to an e-mail an administrator sent to students Monday evening. Mathew was a resident of Leverett House.
Mathew and six other members of the Harvard Mock Trial Association were traveling in a van when the accident occurred, school officials said.
Trooper Jeff Flynn of the New Jersey State Police said the accident happened on the northbound side of the New Jersey Turnpike in Robbinsville at about 12:35 a.m. Monday. The Harvard students were traveling in a 2012 Chrysler Town & Country minivan.
Flynn, citing an accident report, said the van went off the road, struck a guardrail and then veered back into traffic before it came to a stop in the center lane. A tractor-trailer then struck the van, and Mathew was ejected from the vehicle. A second tractor-trailer struck the first truck but the driver was not injured, police said.
Flynn said three passengers in the van – identified as Florence Chen, 20; Jacob Steinberg-Otter, 20; and Graham Wyatt, 21 – were injured, one seriously, and were taken to a hospital in Trenton.
No other injuries were reported, Flynn said. Authorities were still investigating the cause of the accident.
“Please join me in offering thoughts and deepest sympathies for Angela’s family and friends in what is an extremely difficult time,” Donald H. Pfister, interim dean of Harvard’s undergraduate college, said in an e-mail to students. “This is a tragedy, and I join you all in the feeling of loss Angela’s death brings.
“She was a very bright, talented young woman,” Pfister added. “Our hearts are broken. This is a very sudden and unexpected loss. The news comes as a shock not only to Angela’s friends in Leverett House, but to all of us throughout the college. All of us — those who knew Angela and those of us who did not — are grieving today.”
“We must also keep in our thoughts the other students who were injured and we are hopeful for their recovery,” the e-mail said.
Pfister urged students to seek out Harvard health professionals, house masters, and resident deans if they need help coping with the tragedy.
“During times like these it is important we come together as a community to support one another,” he added.
Harvard has four mock trial teams that compete in tournaments across the country, according to the group’s website. The most recent event was held at the University of Richmond, the Harvard Crimson reported.
During the competition against other colleges, participants play the roles of attorneys and witnesses, “using critical thinking, debate skills, and a thorough knowledge of trial law,” according to the website.