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Officials reveal new information about Waltham bus crash that killed Brandeis student

Vanessa Mark, a 25-year-old Brandeis University student, was killed. She is remembered as "a bright, cheery personality in really every sense of the word."

Flowers lay at the scene of a shuttle bus crash on South Street in Waltham that left one person dead and dozens injured. Jessica Rinaldi/Boston Globe

Officials released additional information Monday about the fatal bus crash that occurred Saturday night in Waltham. An investigation into the incident remains ongoing. Vanessa Mark, a 25-year-old Brandeis University student, was killed in the crash. 

A shuttle bus operated by Joseph’s Transportation struck a tree at about 10:32 p.m. Saturday, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan’s office said. The bus was traveling down South Street in Waltham. 

First responders found 30 passengers and the bus driver at the scene. Mark, who was one of the passengers, was pronounced dead at the scene. All of the remaining passengers were transported to area hospital;s with varying degrees of injuries. The driver, a 57-year-old man, was also brought to a hospital. At least one surviving passenger sustained injuries that could be life threatening. 

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The passengers on the bus were mostly from Brandeis, but students from other schools were also onboard. The shuttle was operating on a routine route from Boston and Cambridge back to Brandeis at the time of the crash. 

Reports from Sunday indicated that the shuttle was carrying students after they attended a hockey game at Northeastern University. Some students reported that they had gone to the game earlier in the night, but not all students were on the shuttle for that purpose, Ryan’s office clarified. The bus was not chartered for any specific event. 

Law enforcement officials from Ryan’s office, the Waltham Police Department, and Massachusetts State Police are continuing to investigate the crash. Their work includes collaboration with the State Police Crash Reconstruction Section, interviewing witnesses, and collecting additional evidence from the scene. 

There is no evidence that the bus rolled over during the crash, Ryan’s office said. 

Investigators are still hoping to speak with anyone who witnessed the crash, or has any information or video of the crash. Members of the public with pertinent information are being urged to contact the Waltham Police Department at (781) 314-3600.

A vigil in honor of the victims was planned for Monday evening at Brandeis.

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One of the passengers, Cassidy Hanck, told CBS that the movement of the bus felt odd before the crash, and that the gas and brakes felt “touchy.”

She told the station that, from her perspective, it appeared the driver swerved off the road to avoid further catastrophe.

“There’s a railroad track up ahead and like stores and other students and stuff…he could have kept going that way, or he could like swerve off the road to try and stop the bus,” she told CBS. “We felt like we were going fast, and then we went up on the curb, and then into a few bushes, and then into a tree at full force…lots and lots of blood lots of chaos.”

Those that knew Mark were left struggling with their grief on Monday.  

Vanessa Mark, an undergraduate student at Brandeis University, was killed in the bus crash on Saturday. – Adam Fleishaker

“You couldn’t really go many moments with her without cracking a smile and laughing,” Sam Forman, 23, of Allston told The Boston Globe. “Just sort of such a bright, cheery personality in really every sense of the word.”

Forman described meeting Mark during freshman year, when they were auditioning for an improvisation group on campus. Mark would later make the cut and join False Advertising, the oldest improv troupe at Brandeis, the Globe reported. 

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“She is one of the absolute few people I think was truly just good,” Forman told the paper. 

Adam Fleishaker, another friend and a roommate of Mark’s from Brandeis, shared his memories of her in a Facebook post Monday. Fleishaker recalled Mark’s habit of “sing-songingly” calling the names of people she was close to, as well as her “radiant smile and captivating energy.” Mark always brightened the days of those around her, he added. She infused her artwork and her False Advertising with this energy. 

“She had a love for people, laughter, and all of the simple joys of life. I was fortunate to be her roommate and share times laughing at memes and puns, humorously bad video games or TV shows, and expressing our affection for our other suitemates,” Fleishaker wrote. 

In an interview with the Globe, Fleishaker said he hopes that the tragic circumstances of Mark’s death don’t eclipse the goodness she brought into the world.

“What [people] should see is the art and life that flowed from her, and the joy that she brought to everyone,” he told the Globe. “That’s what I want when you search ‘Vanessa Mark’ on Google.”

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