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May 7, 2016

UMass student Robert Clifford dies in car accident

Courtesy James Coletta facebook.com/ JamesColettaPhotography

A 25-year-old University of Massachusetts student was killed yesterday after sustaining injuries in a car accident, officials said.

Robert Clifford, an Amherst resident who was studying Plant, Soil and Insect Sciences at UMass, died after being involved in the accident, which occurred early yesterday, according to a statement issued by University spokesman Ed Blaguszewski to the Massachusetts Daily Collegian last night.

The statement does not give any further details on the accident or its cause, but according to The Day newspaper, the wreck occurred in the early hours of the morning yesterday on Interstate 95 in East Lyme, Conn. when the car Clifford was traveling in hit a tractor-trailer truck, stationed in the breakdown lane, According to Chris Omasta, the president of the Alpha Tau Gamma fraternity at UMass – which Clifford was a member of – the accident occurred when the driver of the vehicle, who he said was a friend of Clifford, fell asleep at the wheel.

Clifford was pronounced dead yesterday afternoon at the Lawrence & Memorial Hospital in New London, Conn., The Day reported. The driver of the vehicle, whom the newspaper identified as 19-year-old Seymour, Conn. resident Lisa Grzywacz, was also taken to Lawrence & Memorial Hospital and was released yesterday afternoon, the paper reported.

Prior to initiating his studies in Plant, Soil and Insect Sciences, Clifford obtained an associate’s degree in fruit and vegetable crops from the Stockbridge School at UMass, where he graduated from last year, according to the statement issued by Blaguszewski.

And in addition to being a member of the Alpha Tau Gamma fraternity, Clifford was also very active in the UMass EDMC – a group that promotes and organizes electronic dance gatherings – according to Omasta.

“All in all, he was an awesome person,” Omasta said of Clifford in a phone interview with the Collegian last night, adding that Clifford had served as the vice president of the fraternity last school year. “He was a big part of EDMC.”

“He was an absolutely excellent student,” added Omasta of Clifford, who he noted was an honors student at UMass.

Members of the fraternity, Omasta said, were to hold a candlelight vigil in honor of Clifford outside of their house at 9 last night.

– Collegian News Staff

 

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