Student killed in accident returning from THON canning trip

September 27, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A Penn State student has died in a one-vehicle accident today (Sept. 27) on the Pennsylvania Turnpike involving seven students in the car returning from a trip to solicit donations for THON, a student-run philanthropy at the University. Details of the accident that occurred in Charlestown Township, Chester County, are still being investigated by the Pennsylvania State Police and it is unclear at this point how the accident occurred.

Vitalya "Tally" Sepot, a 19-year-old sophomore from Branford, Connecticut, was a passenger in the car returning to State College from the Philadelphia area when the accident occurred at 1:49 p.m. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Sepot, who was majoring in graphic design, was part of a group of students from the Alpha Chi Omega sorority and the Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) fraternity who were returning from their first weekend of “canning” for donations for THON. The remaining six students involved in the accident were transported to Paoli Hospital in Paoli, Pennsylvania.

 "The Penn State community and all who know the good work done through student involvement in THON are deeply saddened by this tragedy," said Damon Sims, vice president for Student Affairs. "Our hopes are with the students injured, whose release from the hospital we are eager to see, but our hearts are with Tally's family and friends, whose terrible loss we mourn."

 Other students involved in the accident include:

  •   Victoria Barrett, 18, from Gibsonia, Pennsylvania
  •  Sarah Bixby, 18, from Flemington, New Jersey
  •  Claire Fountas, 19, from Barrington, Illinois
  •  Matthew Hrynkow, 20, from Annandale, Virginia
  •  Brooke Kalodner, 18, from Voorhees, New Jersey
  •  Max Titlebaum, 20, from Merion Station, Pennsylvania

"We are terribly saddened by this accident and our hearts are with the friends and family of Tally as well as other students who were involved in the accident," said Katie Mailey, THON 2016 executive director. "The loss of one of our volunteers and the injury of others is a tragedy and we know this will be felt throughout our community. No words can express our sorrow when learning of this accident and of Tally's passing. We will do all that we can to honor her memory and dedication to THON. We ask that everyone respect the privacy of individuals directly involved. This is a difficult time for many."

The Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, referred to as THON, is a yearlong effort to raise funds and awareness for the fight against pediatric cancer. Several weekends a year are designated as “canning” weekends, where students solicit donations in communities across the region. Since 1977, THON has raised more than $127 million for families of pediatric cancer patients and research toward finding a cure.

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. The CANHELP crisis line at 800-643-5432 also is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Last Updated September 27, 2015