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Courtesy of Columbia University Global Brigades

Members of the Columbia University Medical Brigades, pictured here in a photo taken in 2014, regularly travel to Honduras and Panama to implement service programs that benefit more than 130,000 people annually.

Updated: Jan. 14, 3:11 p.m.

Three Columbia University students died Wednesday in a bus accident while on a Global Brigades service mission in Honduras, according to a statement on the organization's website.

In an email to students sent Wednesday night, Barnard President Debora Spar and University President Lee Bollinger reported that the three students are Barnard College junior Daniella Moffson, Columbia College sophomore Olivia Erhardt, and Abigail Flanagan, a General Studies student, nurse practitioner at the Columbia University Medical Center, and mother of Patrick Flanagan, CC '18.

Spar also reported that the four other Barnard students on the trip are safe and expected home shortly. According to Bollinger, other Columbia students were injured in the bus accident, and the University is "working to ensure that they are receiving all necessary medical attention."

The students were working in the country through the University's Medical Brigade program. According to Spar's email to students, 25 Barnard and Columbia students travelled through Honduras, Panama, and Nicaragua over the past six days to work with local doctors and pharmacists. The group was intended to return to the United States on Tuesday.

A student on the trip told Spectator that the bus flipped over on its side. Honduran newspapers reported that local officials at the scene of the accident said the cause was unknown.

According to a statement issued by the University, Columbia medical support and personnel, including Medical Director for Health Services Dr. Samuel Seward, are traveling to Honduras overnight to provide "additional on-site assistance."

"We are in the process of determining the full extent of the injuries sustained by the bus passengers and contacting families of our students," the statement said. "Our thoughts are with all those who have been affected by this tragic loss.  We will provide further information to the university community as it becomes available."

The University will hold a candlelight vigil to honor the deceased next Tuesday at 6 p.m. in Low Plaza, according to an email sent to the Columbia community on Thursday afternoon by Dean of the School of General Studies Peter Awn, Dean of The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science Mary Boyce, Dean of Barnard College Avis Hinkson, and Dean of Columbia College James Valentini.

The email also stated that the University will fly flags at half-staff on the day of the vigil, and that Lerner Piano Lounge will be opened this Saturday and next Monday between 2 p.m. - 4 p.m. as a space for students to gather.

Check back for updates.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that the students died on Tuesday. In fact, it was on Wednesday. Spectator regrets the error.

news@columbiaspectator.com | @ColumbiaSpec

Columbia University medical brigades honduras bus accident
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