UW first-year student dies after being struck by lightning

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<em>UW president and vice-chancellor, <em>Feridun Hamdullahpur, has</em> addressed the media in a press conference at QNC, where he revealed the family has requested privacy and have asked the University of Waterloo and Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS) not to release the name of the female student victim.</em>


<em>&quot;On behalf of our entire community of students, faculty, staff, and alumni, I express heartfelt condolences to this student&#39;s family, friends, and fellow students at this profoundly difficult time,&quot; Hamdullahpur said.</em>


<em>He added, &quot;I remind our University of Waterloo community members, and students in particular, that our counselling services team is available to support you.&quot;</em>


<em>Three students have been identified or reported as witnesses by other media outlets.</em>


<em>CBC News KW spoke to two of the witnesses, Daniel Obadun and Obina Ohuabunwa.</em>


<em>&quot;She had burns all over her skin, her clothes were torn off. She was just laying lifeless with smoke coming out of her body,&quot; Obadun said to CBC.</em>


<em>Ohuabunwa added, &quot;There&#39;s this feeling like, if I was there faster, could I have done something to help her? It&#39;s devastating, really sad.&quot;</em>


<em>The third witness has been identified as Abbey Sayles, who &quot;saw the student lying in the mulch after struck by lightning,&quot; <em>according to The Record&#39;s Liz Monteiro&#39;s Twitter account.</em></em>


<em>Contrary to earlier reports, the student was walking back to her room in the Village 1 student residences when she was struck. The administration could not confirm if she took cover under a tree or where she was coming from exactly.&nbsp;</em>


<em>Members of the media asked both&nbsp;Hamdullahpur and Chris Read, associate provost of students, about the series of fire drills occurring around campus and other residences close to the time of the incident, despite the storm in the area.</em>


<em>Imprint spoke to students from UWP, REV and V1, who said they had fire drills around 8:30<i>&ndash;8</i>:50 a.m., despite there being rumbles of thunder and rain in the area.</em>


<em>&quot;Fire drills are a routine part of our orientation week, and yes this morning we did have fire drills, however, it was a completely different part of campus, miles apart from where the incident took place. There is no linkage between this unfortunate accident and the fire drills,&quot;&nbsp;Hamdullahpur said.</em>


<em>When asked why students were only informed through social media after the storm and not prior to its commencement,&nbsp;<em>Read said, &quot;The storm came on so fast. For those in the area, they know how quickly it came on, and it didn&#39;t last very long. It is really sad what happened, but the monitoring of the weather is something we do regularly, but it wasn&#39;t something we were prepared for, and I think that is understandable in this situation.&quot;&nbsp;</em></em>


<em>Orientation week events originally planned tonight are cancelled, including alternate programming scheduled shortly after the press conference at PAC and SLC.</em>


<em>The status of Black and Gold Day tomorrow is still unknown.</em>


<em>&quot;We&#39;re still making decisions. There is a lot of information to try and gather. We&#39;re making decisions on how the program will continue and we&#39;re evaluating that. There&#39;s still another day to go in our program. In the coming hours we will go through that and make some decisions,&quot; Read said.</em>


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An 18-year-old female first year student has passed away after being struck by lightning as she was walking to campus during a period of severe weather in the area on September 5.


&ldquo;The incident took place around 9 a.m., where a 911 call was placed immediately. The student was taken from campus to hospital, where sadly she died of her injuries,&quot; said Nick Manning, director of media relations at UW.


The female student was struck by lightning on the path connecting the main part of campus to the residences, close to Village 1, where emergency services responded immediately.


Manning could not confirm at this time if the student lives on campus or off-campus, and said the identity of the student will be released &ldquo;later.&rdquo;


According to a Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS) press release, the first-year student is from Markham, Ontario and was set to start her post-secondary studies next week in nanotechnology engineering.&nbsp;


The WRPS online statement also confirms that the coroner&rsquo;s office is currently investigating the &ldquo;circumstances surrounding the incident,&rdquo; while the Ministry of Labour has also been contacted.


<em>Imprint</em> received an email from the UW administration which stated that since this incident resulted in the critical injury of a person, they are obligated as an employer to report this to the Ministry of Labour as the UW campus is considered a workplace.


Olaf Heizel, public affairs co-ordinator for WRPS, spoke to <em>Imprint </em>in a phone interview and said that the identity of the female student will not be released until they are able to contact the family, which they are still in the process of doing.


In the meantime, the University of Waterloo administration has cancelled all Orientation week events scheduled for today until further notice.


Danielle Burt, Feds president, said that students who have been affected by the incident in any way should contact UW counselling services for assistance as soon as possible.
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