By CHRISTINE LUTTON On Saturday, University Chaplain Stanley Johnson's day began at 4 a.m. That was when Johnson was alerted by University Police that a student had been critically injured six hours earlier when a van ran over her during a purse-snatching. Johnson spent the weekend comforting friends and family of the victim, College junior Roberta Koeppel, and his job is far from over. Until the crisis has cleared, Johnson will continue to provide support. As the University's non-denominational religious official, Johnson is one of the key links in the chain traced out by the Emergency Procedures Manual. The manual provides protocol on who to call and what to do when a University student is seriously injured. Johnson said he has been to the hospital twice to see Koeppel's family, who he said are "understandably dismayed." "I think they are finding a great deal of comfort and support from Roberta's friends," said Johnson who added that at least five students have visited Koeppel at the hospital. Johnson said he primarily supports the family, while the VPUL's office works more directly with students. "It is very difficult," Johnson said. "I feel very much for the families involved." "I have four children of my own and one always wonders what it is like for the parents," Johnson said. Johnson said he felt the six-year-old Emergency Procedure Manual provides a good basis for communication during crises, but he said "each situation is new and unique." Barbara Cassel, the executive assistant to the Vice Provost for University Life, said she acted as the "point person" this weekend to coordinate efforts to contact and support College junior 's friends and family. University Police contacted Victim Safety and Support Director Ruth Wells within an hour of the accident and Wells called Cassel. Cassel said officials have made an effort to find Koeppel's family a place to stay near Thomas Jefferson Hospital where Koeppel remains in the intensive care unit. Under the manual's procedures, Cassel, as the point person, was responsible for contacting the VPUL and other top officials. Cassel said she worked to notify Koeppel's friends and explain the counseling services that are available at the University. Since some of Koeppel's friends live in campus residences Cassel also contacted the staff in those residences. "We want to make sure everyone is included in the loop," Cassel said. She said she will also contact the College dean and Koeppel's academic advisor so that her professors are notified. Cassel said she has spoken with three of Koeppel's friends and planned to speak with one more yesterday afternoon. She will be meeting with several students today and said she expects to be in touch with at least a half a dozen friends. "I have been to the hospital and talked with family and friends," Cassel said. "We provided support and will continue to do that." University Counseling Services and the Psychiatric Division of Student Health will reach students who know Koeppel and see they can make arrangements with their professors about coursework, Cassel said. "It is midterms, but a number of students were in the hospital yesterday and were up all night Friday," she said. Wells was out of town and could not be reached for comment, but Cassel said the director of victim safety and support had been to the hospital this weekend to see Koeppel's family.Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.