Expressing grief

A makeshift memorial is growing on North Main Street just below Limber Road and Allegheny Street on the campus of Allegheny College near the spot were student Hannah Morris was hit by a vehicle late last night. She later died from her injuries.

An Allegheny College neuroscience major described as happy and very intelligent died early today after being hit late Thursday by a man driving a sport utility vehicle on North Main Street in Meadville.

Hannah Morris, 20, from Oak Ridge, Tenn., was fatally injured when she was struck by a 2009 Toyota RAV4 driven by 35-year-old Meadville resident Jeffrey Freeman on North Main Street near the former Odd Fellows home around 10:44 p.m. Thursday, according to Meadville police and Scott Schell, Crawford County's coroner. Morris was crossing the street from west to east but was not in a crosswalk when she was struck, Schell said.

Schell said Morris was wearing a dark maroon coat and blue jeans and "it was raining when it happened" on Allegheny's campus just below North Main's intersection with Allegheny Street and Limber Road.

Schell said tests he ran on Morris showed there were no drugs or alcohol in her system.

Morris was taken to Meadville Medical Center for treatment, but was pronounced dead at 12:40 a.m. today, Schell said. Morris' death was ruled accidental due to multiple blunt force trauma, Schell said.

Meadville police said Freeman has not been charged at this time, but the investigation continues and the Pennsylvania State Police accident reconstruction team has been called in for assistance. The RAV4 has been impounded, according to Michael Tautin, assistant chief of Meadville police. Members of the reconstruction team will be in Meadville on Tuesday to check out the vehicle's electronics and internal workings. Specialized equipment will be brought in to check the vehicle.

Jacquie Kondrot, interim dean of students at Allegheny, said, “We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Hannah Morris. Our focus right now is on our students, to make sure that they have the support they need at this time of great loss to our campus community. Our thoughts are with Hannah’s family and her many friends.”

Professors were given the latitude to cancel classes and were cautioned that some students may be absent from classes. Professors were also given details about contacting support personnel to aid in addressing students' reaction and grief. A private college community gathering was set for this afternoon for those who sought and wished to provide mutual support. A public memorial service will be held at a later date.

Yvonne Longstreth, a worker at the college's Brooks Dining Hall well-known for befriending practically every student, did know Morris. “She was just a very nice girl, and she was always happy. She will be greatly missed," Longstreth said.

Friends of Morris at the dining hall did not want to talk.

Jeffrey Hollerman, Morris' academic advisor and an associate professor of both neuroscience and psychology, said, “Hannah was a wonderful young person. She was very intelligent, but she was also compassionate and self-reflective,” which he considered a “special combination.” He also said that the junior who expected to graduate with the class of 2017 had a lot of potential that will be missed.

Tribune reporters Amanda Spadaro, Keith Gushard and Pat Bywater contributed to this report.

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