WALTHAM — One student was killed and 27 people injured after a Brandeis University shuttle bus slammed into a tree in Waltham as it was returning Saturday night to the campus from a hockey game at Northeastern University, officials said.
Vanessa Mark, 25, an undergraduate at the university, died in the crash, according to university officials.
“While Vanessa was currently on leave, she was living in Waltham and was an active and cherished member of the Brandeis community,” Brandeis president Ron Liebowitz said in a statement to students Sunday afternoon. “We have been in touch with Vanessa’s family and will continue to stay in contact with them in the coming days, and we will keep you updated about ways we will honor Vanessa’s memory.”
Brandeis has canceled classes for Monday and Tuesday, officials said, to enable students to go home to family and friends, and to give students who remain on campus opportunities to gather and receive counseling and support.
“I know that sadness over last night’s fatal shuttle accident is rippling through our community today,” Liebowitz said. “We are all experiencing the shock of such a terrible accident, and everyone’s recovery will take time.”
Ryan Lee said at the scene Sunday that he and his wife drove overnight from Montville, N.J., after learning their 21-year-old daughter had been hospitalized after the crash.
”I’m just glad she’s alive,” Lee said as his wife combed through the crash site.
The bus, which was contracted by Brandeis, was traveling “from a Cambridge and Boston route” when the crash occurred on South Street, said a spokesperson.
Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and Waltham Police Chief Kevin O’Connell said in a statement Sunday the bus crashed into a tree at approximately 10:32 p.m.
One student was pronounced dead on scene, while 26 students and the bus driver suffered “injuries of varying degrees” and were taken to area hospitals, the statement said.
Many of the injured have since been released from hospitals.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation, according to the statement, and no charges have been filed.
Brian Belliveau, 40, was on his way home to his South Street residence Saturday night when he happened upon the crash scene across the street.
He described seeing the mangled bus, shattered glass across the roadway, people sitting on the curb, bloodied faces and shirts, and a wave of first responders.
Belliveau and his neighbors answered a call for blankets for the injured in the first minutes after the crash, bringing what they could find from their homes, he said.
”It was just kind of a surreal thing to witness.” he said. “The bus was totally destroyed, all the windows on the side were ripped open, and the front end was just totally smashed in.”
Belliveau said the seriousness of the situation gripped him when he overheard a police officer requesting help with first aid.
”I got the sense that there were probably some casualties when I heard a cop say, ‘we need CPR on multiple people,’” Belliveau said.
He said he was up until 3 a.m. watching police and first responders process the scene.
At the scene of the crash late Sunday afternoon, glass shards and mangled pieces of metal were strewn around a pair of tire marks streaking from the street, across the sidewalk, and stopping at an uprooted tree.
On the sidewalk were two bouquets of flowers. The street was quiet with the occasional passerby stopping to look solemnly at the remains of the wreckage.
University officials held a meeting for students on campus late Sunday morning.
Brandeis freshman Jadyn Maher, who attended the meeting, said she takes the same shuttle to Boston nearly every weekend, but she had too much homework Saturday and some of her friends had already gone home for Thanksgiving, so she stayed in instead.
”It could’ve been anybody,” Maher said.
“It’s so accessible, easy, and convenient,” she said of the free shuttle that she usually catches across from her dorm.
Maher went to the meeting to learn what she could about the crash and the university’s response.
”[The meeting] was just for them to show us that we have resources for support and they’re not taking this lightly,” Maher said. “They’re taking time to acknowledge it. This is a big deal.”
University officials told students to reach out to friends and family, Maher said.
”This is a small, tight-knit community. Usually anybody here is a friend of a friend; everybody is connected in some way,” Maher said. “We know somebody’s family, somebody’s friends had to get that difficult call last night or this morning.”
The toll the tragedy has taken on the Brandeis community was noted in a statement from officials Sunday morning.
“This has been a difficult night for our community; we know that many students have been up much of the night waiting for information about their friends who were on the Boston/Cambridge shuttle,” said the statement from Carol Fierke, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, and other officials.
“Please take care of yourselves and each other as we all process this terrible event,” the statement said.
A swimming and diving meet scheduled for noon against Tufts University was canceled, according to a statement from Brandeis Athletics.
The city of Waltham expressed sympathy to those at Brandeis.
“Our thoughts & prayers are with our Brandeis community as they work to recover from this horrible accident,” the city tweeted.
The bus was owned by Joseph’s Transportation Inc. in Medford, which has 36 drivers and 30 vehicles and a good safety record for the last 24 months, records show. The company did not immediately respond to phone and e-mail messages on Sunday.
Waltham police urge witnesses or anyone who has information about the crash to contact the Waltham Police Department at 781-314-3600.
Laura Crimaldi of the Globe staff and Globe correspondents Breanne Kovatch, Bailey Allen, and Isabela Rocha contributed to this report.
Tonya Alanez can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @talanez. John Hilliard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Bailey Allen can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @baileyaallen.