Bard mourns for 2 victims of hit-and-run

Bard College students, faculty and administrators are mourning the loss of two first-year students who were killed in a hit-and-run accident on Route 9G Friday night.

Evelina Martin Brown, 20, of Seattle, Wash., and Sarah McCausland, 19, of Winnetka, Ill., were remembered as bright, kind young women, as diligent students and as kind friends.

“They are two wonderful young women,” Bard president Leon Botstein told the Observer.

McCausland was a linguistics and anthropology major; Brown was a studio art major.

A third victim, first-year student Selena Frandsen, reportedly had a non-life threatening injury involving her knee.

She was taken to Columbia Memorial Hospital after the midnight crash in Tivoli near West Kerley Corners Road. According to the police investigation, the three students were walking along Route 9G when they were struck by a southbound vehicle. A Red Hook woman was later arrested and charged with felony DWI.

Botstein said the tragedy should never have happened.

“That doesn’t mean, however,” he added, “that their deaths should…be in vain.”

Botstein said he and Vice President for Administration Jim Brudvig have been working together for years to make the roads surrounding Bard safer.

“It’s about time something was done in the way the roads were organized,” he added, “to acknowledge the presence of a density of people who walk run and bike along these roads.”

He added, however, “I am terribly proud of our students and terribly proud of their behavior. One of the wonderful things about Bard is that for years we’ve had a large portion of our students living in the town for over 30 years, and it has developed a very good relationship between town and gown.”

The accident shocked the entire college community.

“It’s an unspeakable tragedy,” first-year student Lydia Herrick said.

“Not a lot of Bard students think about death on a personal level,” junior Sophie Lazar said.

“They didn’t do anything wrong,” first-year student Liz Boyd said.

The college was awaiting the arrival of the victims’ parents today while offering counseling and support groups for students.

On Saturday night, a midnight vigil was held in the victims’ memory. The Chapel of the Holy Innocents on the college campus was filled with students who had come to pay their respects. Students sat in the aisles because there were not enough seats.

The vigil, which lasted about half an hour, was a space for students to quietly support each other.

“We are each other’s best resource,” Community Life Chaplain Nicholas Lewis said at the vigil. Students lit candles and wrote letters in remembrance of the girls or in support of their dorm, Hudson.

For many, the accident came as a reminder to appreciate those near and dear.

“We need to be more safe,” junior Kelsey Davis said.

“Everyone has been texting each other, asking if people are okay,” said first-year student Brendan Eprile said.

Meanwhile, more details about one of the victims emerged Sunday in the Winnetka Talk, a Chicago Sun Times publication that covers the suburb where Sarah McCausland’s family lives.

Her father, Andy McCausland, 52, told the newspaper his daughter, a 2013 New Trier High School graduate, was teaching herself to speak Icelandic, loved music, played the guitar, banjo and ukelele and was teaching herself the piano.

“She had a hunger for knowledge,” he said.

“She was eloquent, intelligent beyond belief,” said her mother, Sandra McCausland, 51. “She could win any argument. She was just a treasure to us.”

McCausland, who worked at the Enchanted Cafe in Red Hook, is also survived by a younger sister, Tori, 16, according to the newspaper.

Brown, known as Lina to her friends, is remembered as “kind, sharp, funny” by Herrick, who was in her Spanish class.

The woman arrested in the case, Red Hook resident Carol Boeck, 63, is due in Tivoli court on Monday. She has been charged with felony DWI and felony vehicular manslaughter. Boeck has a prior conviction for misdemeanor DWI in 2005.

County Legislator Micki Strawinski on Sunday expressed her own condolences “as a 14 year employee of Bard College” on the tragedy.

“First and foremost, my heartache for the family and friends of these bright young women cuts deep,” she said in an email.

Then she added, “As a County Legislator representing Red Hook and Tivoli, I am committed to working with local and state government related to creating a sustained dialogue about the dangers of driving while impaired and to bring attention to the need for improvements to roadways that are shared by those on foot or bicycles.”

She also said, “I have been in touch with Senator Terry Gipson and Assemblymember Kevin Cahill and have heard from our County Executive Marcus Molinaro and Tivoli Mayor Bryan Cranna, all of whom have offered their condolences to the college community, and are equally as committed to coming together for these much needed conversations.”

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