RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Another student at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) has reportedly been killed in a crash on campus.
Shortly before 6:45 p.m. on Thursday, May 4, officers with the Richmond Police Department were called to the 300 block of West Main Street for a reported “collision with personal injury.”
According to police, two vehicles had been traveling westbound on West Main Street when they collided, causing one of the vehicles to leave the roadway. The vehicle then hit a pole and an adult male pedestrian. The vehicle continued and then ran into a building.
The pedestrian victim — identified as 26-year-old Shawn Soares of Richmond — died from his injuries at the scene.
Police said West Main Street near Madison Street was closed for several hours as crews worked to remove the damaged pole.
The Richmond Police Department Crash Team is continuing to investigate the incident. According to police, both vehicles remained at the scene and no charges have been issued at this time.
In January 2023, a similar incident occurred in which another VCU student was hit by a car and killed on West Main Street — just a few blocks west of Thursday’s crash. A week after that, in early February, another pedestrian was hit by a commercial vehicle near the university’s campus.
“Shawn’s death is tragic and heartbreaking,” said VCU President, Michael Rao. “I knew Shawn and worked with him on many issues. He was an exceptionally positive force in our world and was living to make the lives of everyone better. He was one of the best students I’ve ever known.”
According to the university, traffic enforcement has already increased since earlier this semester — with 695 traffic stops, 228 warnings, 811 citations and 61 arrests. VCU is also expecting a report from an independent expert due on July 1 that will outline possible improvements.
“It is clear that major change is needed to the city streets and sidewalks on and adjacent to our campuses,” a release from VCU reads. “The university is 100 percent committed to making improvements and is counting on the city to partner with us.”
Schuyler VanValkenburg, Delegate for Virginia’s 72nd District, posted a statement on his Twitter account in response to Soares’ death.
“This is so unbelievably tragic. Shawn wanted to make the world a better place and genuinely cared for others,” Said VanValkenburg in the statement. “And he always had a smile on his face. He could light up a room. Just truly devastating.”
State Senator Ghazala Hashmi, who represents Virginia’s 10th District, posted a statement on her Twitter Account, saying “I’m devastated to learn about Shawn. This sweet, thoughtful, and bright young man was a light in our world. His loss is heartbreaking.”
Irene Shin, Delegate for Virginia’s 86th District, also posted a statement on her Twitter account.
“I’m devastated by the news of Shawn’s passing. What an immeasurable loss for the community. My heart and prayers go out to his family,” said Shin in the statement. “I am grateful to have known him. He was a remarkably kind and good person.”
In the wake of Soares’ death, VCU is encouraging students who need assistance to use the university’s counseling resources. Faculty members and staff have access to their own separate resources as well.