“Just applied for a resort in Hawaii,” Joshua Mejia tweeted on Thursday. “Let’s see what happens ... Next is Europe.”
He was a Penn State senior eager to celebrate homecoming and enthusiastic about a career in hospitality as he finished his management degree. He had dreams of owning his own resort in the Dominican Republic someday.
Those dreams disappeared when the 21-year-old man from Bergenfield, N.J., died in a crash Sunday. University officials called his loss “so very tragic and sad.”
Mejia was a driver at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel. According to university spokeswoman Lisa Powers, he was returning to the hotel from delivering someone to the University Park Airport in a Dodge Grand Caravan at the time of the crash, about 1:55 p.m.
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State College and Penn State police responded to the crash along with Alpha Fire Company and Centre LifeLink. They say Mejia had turned left from Fox Hollow Road onto Park Avenue, heading east toward the hotel when he missed the exit ramp to Innovation Park, striking a large metal post “at a high rate of speed.”
Mejia was trapped inside the van, which caught fire after the impact. Witnesses at the scene said he initially was conscious and speaking.
According to a news release from State College police Monday afternoon, Mejia was pronounced dead at Mount Nittany Medical Center at 2:37 p.m., about 20 minutes after firefighters pulled him from the crushed van. His injuries reportedly included “severe head and chest trauma.” Powers said he suffered cardiac arrest.
Centre County Coroner Scott Sayers said in a news release Monday that Mejia died as a result of blunt force trauma and his death was ruled accidental. Mejia was wearing a seat belt when the vehicle crashed, Sayers said.
Police are investigating the crash and seeking witnesses or others with information. Anyone who can help is asked to call State College police at 234-7150 or to submit an anonymous tip through the department website, www.statecollegepa.us.
“We are profoundly saddened by this tragic accident. It is always painful to hear of the loss of any student and our hearts go out to his family and friends,” Powers said.
She said Student Affairs has been in contact with his family.
On his website, Mejia spoke glowingly of those he loved.
“I come from a big family and we share a closely knitted bond. My mother is the force that drives me to succeed,” he wrote.