A 20-year-old Chinese student attending Pacific Union College died when a Ford SUV carrying her and six classmates overturned as it traveled up a hill to the Angwin, California-based campus for the first day of spring quarter classes.
Police were investigating Tuesday why the 2004 Ford Expedition crashed around 2 p.m. Monday on Deer Park Road.
“The atmosphere at PUC is very sad right now as Monday was the first day of the spring quarter, and this is a rather tragic way to begin this final quarter of an otherwise very positive school year,” college president Heather J. Knight told the Adventist Review.
Fen Pan, an international student from Beijing, China, was ejected from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene.
Fen, a 2014 graduate of Loma Linda Academy, was studying music and pre-dentistry at Pacific Union College, the college said in an e-mailed statement.
“Our campus community is saddened by the loss of our dear, sweet Fen Pan,” Lisa Bissell Paulson, vice president for student services, said in the statement. “Her love for life was contagious amongst her family and friends. Her beautiful smile, her ability to connect and make close, lifelong friends, and her genuine commitment to loved ones will always be a cherished memory.”
Injured in the accident were Yejin An, from Guam; Ruth Bahta, from Carmichael, California; Soon Joo Hwang and Issac Hwang from Chino Hills, California; Jihyun Kim, from Guam; and Jaeyeong Choi, from Colton, California, the college said. All had been released from area hospitals by Tuesday.
The college’s spiritual leaders met together on Monday evening with administrators, faculty, staff, and students to pray for the students and families affected by the tragedy. Students wrote personal messages and prayers and pinned them to a symbolic cross located in the front of Scales Chapel, the college said. Pastors, chaplains, and counselors provided support to the participants.
“We will continue to provide spiritual and emotional support for our campus community in the days to come,” Knight said.
A memorial service is planned for 10 a.m. Thursday, March 31, at the PUC Church.
Pacific Union College, which initially announced the accident with a statement by Knight on its Facebook page, later posted an update and asked for prayers.
“Please keep our students, their families, friends, and peers in your prayers,” it said.
Adventist believers responded with an outpouring of sympathy and support on Facebook.
“My heart is aching,” said Sue Kim, whose daughter attends Pacific Union College. “Praying for all the students right now.”
“I’ve been crying since I heard about it two hours ago,” said Quacinda Jodyne Topok, the mother of another Pacific Union College student.
“Walla Walla University is praying,” said Stephan William Farr, the student vice president for spiritual affairs at the university in College Place, Washington.
Other church-owned education institutions — including Sacramento Adventist Academy, Monterey Bay Academy, Upper Columbia Academy, and Union College — also offered their condolences.
“We lift the Pacific Union College family up in prayer through this difficult time,” said La Sierra University, located in Riverside, California. “We pray for the speedy recovery of the students involved in today’s car accident and comfort for the family of the deceased student.”
“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,” said Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, Tennessee. “‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be more more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away’ Revelation 21:4.”