A bus carrying Columbia and Barnard students back to the airport after a medical aid trip crashed Wednesday in Honduras, killing three of the volunteers and injuring others.
In an email to students Wednesday night, Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger said that Columbia student Olivia Erhardt, Barnard student Daniella Moffson and Abigail Flanagan, a nurse practitioner at Columbia University Medical Center and a student at the university’s School of General Studies, died and that other Columbia students were hurt in the accident.
The group was volunteering for Global Brigades, which organizes international health and development missions. In December, students were selling cookies on the New York City campus to help fund medical supplies, and over the winter break they traveled to Central America. Erhardt was 20, Moffson was 21, and Flanagan was 45.
Patrick Flanagan, a Columbia student who was also on the trip with his mother, said in a message Thursday afternoon that it is too soon to talk about her.
“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.”
A spokesperson for the university said Thursday afternoon that they had dispatched people to Honduras and were waiting for further information to be confirmed.
“Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to all those affected by this tragedy,” Global Brigades co-founder Steven Atamian said in a statement on the organization’s website.
On social media, friends, family and complete strangers mourned the loss of life and the sad ending of a compassionate trip.