Penn State

Penn State student killed in crash of hotel minivan

A Penn State student was killed Sunday when the Dodge Grand Caravan he was driving crashed into the pole of an overpass sign on East Park Avenue.
A Penn State student was killed Sunday when the Dodge Grand Caravan he was driving crashed into the pole of an overpass sign on East Park Avenue. CDT photo

A Penn State student was killed Sunday in a single-vehicle crash on East Park Avenue.

Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers said in an email that the student was returning alone to The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel after he took someone to the airport in a hotel van. Powers declined to release the name of the student before his family was notified.

“We are profoundly saddened by this tragic accident,” Powers said. “It is always painful to hear of the loss of any student and our hearts go out to his family and friends. Student Affairs has been notified and will be contacting the family soon. So very tragic and sad.”

After turning onto Park Avenue from Fox Hollow Road, the driver was heading east toward Interstate 99 when he missed the Innovation Park exit ramp to the hotel, Powers said.

He “tried to turn at the last minute, but clipped a sign post and (then) ran into a concrete barrier,” she said.

State College police Sgt. Todd Scholton said the white Dodge Grand Caravan caught fire after it drove off the right side of the road at about 1:55 p.m. Scholton said the vehicle struck a sign on the side of the road, causing the driver to lose control and hit a large overpass sign pole.

Police and witnesses worked together to control the fire until Alpha Fire Company arrived and extinguished it, Scholton said. Alpha firefighters then extricated the man at 2:15 p.m.

“He was reported to have been in cardiac arrest, and had severe head wounds and trauma to the chest,” Powers said.

The driver was taken by ambulance to Mount Nittany Medical Center.

Wade Burchell, of Chalfont, said he did not see the crash ahead of him, but stopped moments after it occurred. He said he and other witnesses broke windows and tore down the driver’s side door. He said the driver became responsive after initially being unconscious.

“The guy was unconscious when we got here, but became conscious shortly after,” Burchell said. “The car caught fire, but he was able to breathe, and he said, ‘Get me out.’ ”

Stan Clouser, an Alpha safety officer, said he was grateful for the efforts of witnesses and police to control the fire.

“A lot of credit goes to them for keeping the fire under control and for communicating to us that there was a fire and that the driver was entrapped before we got here,” Clouser said.

Alpha had five units on the scene.

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