Student killed in accident on THON canning trip

Five Penn State students on a trip to solicit donations for THON, a student-run philanthropy at the University, were involved in a motor vehicle accident Friday evening that killed one of the students.

Courtney O'Bryan, an 18-year-old freshman from Huntington, NY, was a passenger of a car on its way to Buffalo, N.Y., when the vehicle reportedly hit a patch of "black ice" and flipped over. The accident occurred somewhere near Bradford, Pa., and state police responded to the scene. There are few details available at this time.

"This is devastating news. We are all tremendously saddened to learn of the death of a student and deeply concerned for those who knew Courtney," said Joe Puzycki, assistant vice president for Student Affairs. "Our hearts go out to her family and friends. We are reaching out to the parents of these students and all of the student body at this time. We're urging students to take the utmost caution in their travels for any purpose."

The driver and other passengers of the car have been hospitalized with various injuries. These include:
-- Jena Pardhan, 18, who was taken to Bradford Medical Center and is expected to be released shortly;
-- Lauren Bronstein, 19, who was transported to Penn Medical Center where she will undergo surgery;
-- John Edwards, 20, who was taken to Bradford Medical Center and is expected to be released; and
-- Chris Toner, 21, who is in Kane Community Hospital with various non-life threatening injures. He is reported to be doing well.

The students were part of a group of sororities and fraternities heading to various destinations in Pennsylvania and neighboring states as part of a second weekend of “canning” for donations for THON. The Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, affectionately referred to as THON, is a yearlong effort to raise funds and awareness for the fight against pediatric cancer. Since 1977, THON has raised more than $78 million for The Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital. Several weekends a year are designated as “canning” weekends, where students solicit donations in communities across the region.

Penn State has been in touch with parents of the canners involved in the accident and the University's Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) unit will be holding counseling sessions for various groups across campus. Students who are affected by this accident are urged to contact CAPS or attend the sessions. More information on the CAPS sessions will be available later today (Saturday). The CANHELP crisis line at 800-643-5432 also is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Additional information about the accident and those involved will be reported as details become available.

THON also has released a statement, which can be found at http://thon.org/sites/default/files/PSUTHONStudentCrash.pdf online.

Contacts: 
Last Updated December 12, 2011