1 student killed, 3 critically hurt in crash; ‘life will never be the same’


1 student killed, 3 critically hurt in crash; ‘life will never be the same’

UPDATE @3:30 a.m. 9/27/17

The three students injured in a crash that killed a Central State student Tuesday morning remain in critical condition.

UPDATE @ 10:50 p.m. 9/26/17

Three young women remain in critical condition this evening at Miami Valley Hospital.

Shala Sylvaster, 18, a Central State University student and Wilberforce University students Alanna Wedderburn, 23, and Ariel Woodard, 21, were injured in an early morning crash that killed 21-year-old Alexandria Austin, a sophomore psychology major at Wilberforce.

The university community held a prayer vigil this evening for Austin.


The Wilberforce University community is mourning the loss of a member of the choir and Black Women United who was killed in a crash early Tuesday morning.

The single-vehicle crash happened around 2:30 a.m. on North Bickett Road as it turns near the U.S. 42 intersection by Wilberforce University.

Passenger Alexandria “Alex” Austin, 21, a Wilberforce sophomore from Wayne, Pa., was killed. Three other college students were seriously injured.

Wilberforce University President Herman Felton said he knew Austin as a leader and mentor on campus and “a really nice young lady.”

“I think life will never be the same for many of us with her passing. She was a wonderful kid,” Felton said. “Right now we’re just trying to focus on taking the first step, and that’s just managing the grief here on campus and making sure her parents have everything they need. After that we’ll just take it day-by-day.”

Ariel Woodard, 21, a Wilberforce student, was driving a 2016 Toyota Corolla when it went off the right side of the road and struck a tree, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol Xenia Post. Woodard was taken by life squad to Miami Valley Hospital.

Two other passengers, Shala Sylvester, an 18-year-old Central State University student, and Alanna Wedderburn, a 23-year-old Wilberforce student, were taken by CareFlight to Miami Valley Hospital for treatment of serious injuries.

Conditions of the three women who survived the crash were not available Tuesday afternoon.

Grief counselors were on-hand and a vigil was held at Wilberforce University on Tuesday. Felton said a memorial service is being planned with Austin’s family for a later date.

Friends who knew Alex Austin shared their grief on Facebook and with this news organization.

Jada Walker, a Central State senior, told WHIO’s Sean Cudahy, “Alex was really the heart of the campus.”

“You would not meet Alex and forget about her,” Walker said. “You knew who she was. She was so happy. She was bubbly … She was everything to you that you thought that you did not have. I’m telling you. Homegirl was sweet. She was everything.”

In a Facebook post, friend Jasmine Walters called Austin “one of the most amazing people to ever walk this earth.”

“Not only did Alex love everyone, but she was loved. I mean truly loved,” Walters said. “She was a family girl. She loved her family. It’s crazy because just this morning she was on Snapchat looking amazing, having fun. All within hours we lost her.”

Alcohol is not suspected to be a factor, but investigators are looking at whether excessive speed played a part, Patrol Sgt. Paul Lezotte told reporters at the scene.

Lezotte said it appears all students were wearing seat belts.

“There are some crashes, when they’re this violent, that a seat belt might not have mattered,” Lezotte said. “The ones that were transported by ground and by air, we believe that their injuries were reduced by the use of seat belts. Otherwise we could have a much worse situation here with more fatalities.”

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