Pacific Union College confirmed Monday afternoon that one of its students was killed and six other students injured when a Ford Expedition SUV in which the students were traveling overturned on Deer Park Road. One female student was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident after being thrown from the car, according to the California Highway Patrol. As of Monday evening, the names of the students involved had not yet been released so that family members could be notified first. The cause of the crash is under investigation.
Pacific Union College is located at the top of Howell Mountain in Angwin, California, and is reachable only by twisting, sometimes treacherous mountain roads. The two-lane, divided highway that passes through the campus has claimed the lives of Pacific Union College students before. In 2008, Luke Nishikawa, Boaz Pak, Chong Shin, and Simon Son were all killed in a car crash at the base of Howell Mountain on their way from campus to a grocery store at night. In 2015, Jayaram Notestine died when a car in which he was traveling went off the road and down an embankment, catching fire. Notestine was some 30 minutes from campus on Butts Canyon Road, on his way to Angwin.
Highway Patrol officers said the six surviving students in Monday’s crash--both male and female--were transported by ambulance to area hospitals; two went to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, three to Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa and one to St. Helena Hospital in Deer Park.
A section of Deer Park Road remained closed to traffic for about three hours as the Highway Patrol investigated and cleaned up the crash site.
Monday evening, Pacific Union College shared an update on Facebook saying that five student were being released with one being held for observation.
At the center of campus Monday night, Scales Chapel stayed open for prayer, conversation, and support. The Student Association and Campus Ministries gathered for prayer and fellowship at 7:00pm.
University president Heather Knight invited prayers for the campus and the students injured in the accident, and prayers and support poured in through social media.
Thousands of commenters on Facebook affirmed that they were praying, and several other North American Adventist colleges wrote messages of support and solidarity.
La Sierra University:
"We lift the Pacific Union College family up in prayer through this difficult time. We pray for a speedy recovery of the students involved in today's car accident and comfort for the family of the deceased student."
Southern Adventist University:
"Our prayers are with the Pacific Union College family and the students involved in today's car accident. May God's Spirit bring peace and comfort in this time of sorrow as we look forward to Jesus' return and the reuniting of loved ones."
Jared Wright is Managing Editor of SpectrumMagazine.org.
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