WENHAM — The Gordon College community is in shock after learning that a freshman was killed in a crash Saturday on Route 44 in the southeastern Massachusetts town of Lakeville.
Monica DeMello, 18, of Middleborough was pronounced dead at the scene after police responded to a two-vehicle accident at 2:09 a.m. Saturday, according to a statement from the Lakeville Police Department. The other driver, also a young Middleborough woman, is expected to be arraigned on motor vehicle homicide charges today.
“This is a tragedy and a shock to all of us, especially on the eve of Easter,” wrote Gordon College President D. Michael Lindsay on the Christian college’s Facebook page. Lindsay said officials will be in touch with students as early as today on “plans by faculty, staff and students to celebrate Monica’s life and to grieve her loss as a community.”
“May the blessed assurance of Monica’s place with our risen Savior be a comfort in these coming days,” Lindsay wrote.
Lindsay asked the Gordon community to pray for DeMello’s family and friends.
The student’s mother and sister live in Middleborough, and her father lives in Florida, Lindsay said. DeMello formerly lived in Taunton and graduated from Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical High. She was a psychology major at Gordon. A Facebook group, “Rest in Peace Monica DeMello,” has drawn more than 900 members. Those posting tributes include family, friends, well-wishers, fellow students, former classmates, acquaintances and those who never knew her. Many expressed their shock and sadness at her untimely death and offered prayers to a young woman active in her church.
“We all love her, and we will all miss her,” reads the introduction to the page, one of two in her memory. “We were blessed by such a beautiful person and the world is a better place by having her. You’ve earned your Angel wings Monica, now fly over us all and protect us.”
The posts from Gordon College students show that she touched many lives in her short time at the school. Many describe her as caring, warmhearted and full of devotion.
“At this point, what we are expected is that we will have some opportunity for the entire campus to come together,” said Rick Sweeney, the college’s vice president for marketing and communications.
This is the first time in recent memory that Sweeney can recall a student passing during the school year. He said her death is a tragedy for her family and friends and for the other driver involved, as well.
Getting word out to the entire Gordon College community proved to be somewhat of a challenge, Sweeney said, since students get Good Friday and the Monday after Easter off. Students will be filtering back tonight, he said. About 1,530 undergraduates live on the Grapevine Road campus.
Gordon turned to email and social media because word of the tragedy was spreading “like wildfire,” Sweeney said.
More than 200 people responded to the college’s Facebook posting announcing her death, and many left prayers and thoughts for DeMello, her family and the Gordon community.
Sweeney said that many at the college will “remember her as a wonderful girl full of life.” The timing of DeMello’s death, just before Easter, also carries with it some irony, Sweeney said.
The college’s administration will be back in the office today, Sweeney said, and the president, student life officials and the dean of chapel will all connect on how to respond. Counseling will be made available, Sweeney said.
According to Lakeville police, DeMello was the lone occupant of a 2004 Hyundai Accent when police found it and a 2004 Dodge Ram pickup both overturned on the highway. DeMello was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police also located the driver of the pickup, Kathleen Allen, 23, of Middleborough, and her female passenger. The unidentified passenger was flown by medical helicopter to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
Allen is scheduled to be arraigned today in Wareham District Court on charges of motor vehicle homicide, drunken driving with negligence, drunken driving with serious injury and negligence, drunken driving, driving to endanger, and a marked lanes violation. Lakeville officers were assisted by Raynham, Middleborough and state police.