PHILADELPHIA – A van carrying a Temple University dance team to a competition in North Carolina crashed in southern Virginia early Saturday, killing one student and injuring seven others, police said.
Kammini Ragoopath, 21, of Lansdale, Pa., died after the van veered off Interstate 85 and hit a guardrail in Dinwiddie County, according to Virginia State Police.
Manisha Modi, a passenger who said she broke part of her jaw and collarbone, called the crash "a freak accident."
"There wasn't anything that was out of control or irresponsible," Modi, 19, said from the hospital. "There's no one to blame."
The driver, Bilal Badruddin, 20, of Cranford, N.J., was charged with reckless driving.
Fatima Pervaiz, 20, whose hometown was not available, suffered serious injuries and was flown to a Richmond hospital. Badruddin, Modi and four other passengers were taken to a Petersburg hospital with minor injuries.
Ragoopath, a sophomore kinesiology major, and Pervaiz were not wearing seat belts, police said.
"The loss of a member of our community is never easy, and the sudden death of one of our students is particularly heartbreaking," Temple President Ann Weaver Hart said in a statement Saturday.
The Bhangra dance team, which performs traditional Indian dances, was traveling to Durham, N.C., for Saturday's Virsa Punjab Da, or Heritage of Punjab, competition.
The team from Temple, in Philadelphia, was about 300 miles into the 400-mile trip when the accident happened. Eight of the club's 11 members made the trip, Modi said.
Temple was scheduled to perform as an exhibition team, not part of the main competition, said event co-chairwoman Tiffany Saini, a junior at North Carolina State University.
"We're really sorry. Nobody ever expects these things to happen," Saini said. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to Temple University and all the friends and family involved."
Saini said the event, sponsored by North Carolina State's Sikh Student Association and the Delta Sigma Iota fraternity, would go on as scheduled at the Carolina Theatre.