Norwich University student dies in DUI crash - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Norwich University student dies in DUI crash

Renee Robbins Renee Robbins
Logan O'Neill Logan O'Neill

Northfield, Vermont - October 2, 2011

A Norwich University student is dead and three others are in critical condition following an early morning car crash Sunday. Police say speed and alcohol are likely factors in the crash.

Renee Robbins, 18, from Kentwood Michigan died after a car carrying her and seven other Norwich students went off Winch Hill Road and struck a tree.  

"This is an unfathomable tragedy and the entire university community is grieving over this," said Norwich University President Richard Schneider.
 
The driver of the car, 22-year-old Derek Seber of Pittsford New York, is in custody. He's held on $100,000 bail.

Sgt. Chuck Satterfield of the Northfield Police Department arrived on-scene first at about 1:15 a.m. "Found the driver in the woods, he had attempted to get away from the crash scene," he said

Satterfield said initial tests show Seber was about two and a half times over the legal limit.

Seber will appear in court Monday afternoon, charged with drunk driving resulting in death. The students, all freshmen except the driver, were leaving a nearby off-campus party when the car went off the road. Police also arrested the party's host, 20-year-old Logan O'Neill.

Police say at least 100 students attended the party and they had to establish a D.U.I checkpoint above the crash scene to make sure nobody else tried to drive under the influence. Rather than arresting those who were over the limit, they sent them home with sober drivers or the fire department.

Norwich Sr. Chelsea Copeland said she and her friends left the party early Saturday night. "We ended up leaving because you just couldn't move," she said, "before I knew it I was getting text messages asking if I was okay and if I was safe."

Copeland said she nearly died of alcohol poisoning when she was 19 and that this tragedy needs to serve as a wakeup call to her peers. "A lot of people think they can handle drinking and driving and you can't," she said.

The University does offer a free -- no questions asked -- ride home to students who find themselves without a safe ride, but Copeland says students don't use the service nearly enough.

Police said they have seen a drop in drunk driving since the policy was instituted a few years ago.

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