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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

UF student dead after car crash on University Avenue

A car hit a group of five UF students on a nearby sidewalk, killing one of them

<p>A white Honda Accord involved in the car crash on West University Avenue that killed Sophia Lambert’s and hospitalized five others on Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. A memorial service in honor of Lambert was held at the Chabad UF Jewish Center on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021.</p>

A white Honda Accord involved in the car crash on West University Avenue that killed Sophia Lambert’s and hospitalized five others on Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. A memorial service in honor of Lambert was held at the Chabad UF Jewish Center on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021.

Just over a month after a UF freshman was killed in a hit-and-run on West University Avenue, another five students were hit –– and one died –– after a crash on the road Saturday evening.

Sophia Lambert, an 18-year-old UF theater sophomore in the Delta Phi Epsilon sorority, died following the crash, and five others were hospitalized. 

A Honda Accord was heading west on University Avenue when it tried turning south on Northwest 17th Street and crashed into an eastbound Honda Civic, according to a Gainesville Police Department press release. The Honda Civic skidded sideways, hitting a pole and five UF students on the sidewalk, including Lambert.

As of Monday afternoon, one student is still in the hospital while three students and the driver of the Honda Civic have been released, GPD spokesperson Graham Glover said. GPD and University Police are investigating the crash. 

At about 7:30 p.m., GPD officers were called to the scene near Midtown, Glover said.

Two months ago, Maggie Paxton, a UF student and member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, was killed in a hit-and-run in the same area. Three hit-and-run crashes in December left Paxton and another dead and one in critical condition in Gainesville.

Now, UF students and city residents are calling on the school and Gainesville to take action. A petition created Saturday night had gained more than 18,000 signatures as of Monday evening. A second petition calling for speed bumps on University Avenue was created Sunday afternoon and had more than 9,000 signatures as of Monday evening. 

UF Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Charlie Lane and Vice President for Student Affairs D’Andra Mull sent out a statement to students, faculty and staff Sunday afternoon announcing Lambert’s death, as well as offering counseling and support. The university asked the community to keep Lambert, her family, friends and the others injured in the crash in their thoughts. 

“Please do not hesitate to reach out to us for help,” they wrote in the statement. “The loss of any student life is unfathomable, and we recognize the effect the loss of one of our own has on the collective community.” 

They also wrote that conversations about pedestrian and vehicular safety are underway. UF President Kent Fuchs wrote in a tweet Sunday evening that his heart goes out to Lambert’s family and friends and that he is committed to “efforts regarding pedestrian safety on and around campus.”

UF Delta Phi Epsilon posted on Facebook Sunday evening the sorority is deeply saddened by Lambert’s passing during her first semester in the chapter. 

Delta Phi Epsilon described her as a bright light who had a passion for theater, politics, Dance Marathon, Hillel, the UF Jewish community, and Chabad UF Jewish Student Center. 

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“Our sisters remember Sophia as a kind, sushi-loving, Broadway enthusiast, outspoken girl who cared for others and loved deeply,” the organization’s statement read. 

The total number of people in both cars in Saturday’s crash was unknown Sunday afternoon.

The driver of the White Honda Accord was Boris Stoyanov, a 19-year-old UF architecture sophomore, said Cole Wyatt, a passenger in the car. 

Wyatt, also a 19-year-old UF architecture student, said he and Stoyanov were OK following the crash but are still processing what happened.

Wyatt said when he was in the Accord during the crash, the air bag popped up and he noticed smoke but didn’t see what happened.

“It’s scary how fast it happens,” Wyatt said. “It was overwhelming.”

An investigation of the crash is still ongoing. 

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates. 

This story has been updated to reflect that Sophia Lambert was 18 years old. Gainesville Police and The Alligator previously reported differently.

Julia Cooper contributed to this report.

Contact Asta Hemenway at Follow her on Twitter @astahemenway.

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Asta Hemenway

Asta Hemenway is a third-year senior majoring in Journalism. Born in Tallahassee, she grew up Senegalese American. When she’s not writing or doing school, she loves watching Netflix and Tiktok in her spare time. 

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