A University student was seriously injured Friday night when she was run over by a van during a robbery on the 4000 block of Locust Street. Robbers in a van grabbed the student's book bag as she got out of a car parked near 41st Street at 10:20 p.m. She was dragged for approximately 30 feet before hitting a parked car which knocked her under the van, according to University and Philadelphia Police. University Police spokesperson Sylvia Canada said the student initially struggled to hold onto the bag while the van was driving away. The student, College junior Roberta Koeppel, 20, was taken by ambulance to the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital trauma center. Friends said yesterday she remained in intensive care. Details about her condition were not available. The student's family has requested that no information be released on her condition. The University and the family have also requested that the student's name not be published. A hospital spokesperson told The Philadelphia Inquirer yesterday that the student remained in critical condition. University Chaplain Stanley Johnson said Koeppel is alert and aware of what happened, adding that she underwent surgery yesterday afternoon. Friends and Johnson said published reports that she was in a coma are unfounded. Plainclothes Philadelphia Police officers from the Anti-Crime Team, who were on patrol in the area, heard Koeppel's screams for help and called for backup. Police arrested two suspects after a 12-block car chase when the van hit three parked cars at 50th Street and Osage Avenue. Police charged Allan Waters, 23, of the 1300 block of S. Ruby Street, and Christopher Turner, 27, of Baltimore, Maryland, with robbery, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and other offenses. Friends and University officials were reluctant to discuss the accident or Koeppel's condition, saying they wanted to maintain the victim's privacy and that the family did not want the accident to attract attention. College sophomore Eliza Feuerstein said she and other friends have been at the hospital along with Koeppel's family almost nonstop since the accident. "She's a great girl and we all hope she gets better really soon," Feuerstein said. "She's filled with energy. She has time for all her friends when they need her. She's got so many beautiful characteristics." Since the accident, University officials have taken several steps to help Koeppel's friends and family. The University found a place for her family to stay, and University Chaplain Johnson has visited the hospital several times. Officials also contacted her friends and offered them counseling services. College junior Jeffrey Jacobson, co-chairperson of University Council's Safety and Security Committee, said the Friday incident is especially frightening for students since there was little Koeppel could have done to prevent it. He said students can avoid injury in robbery attempts by giving up their property without a struggle. One of Koeppel's friends was with her as the van drove by, and rushed to Koeppel's aid after she was hurt. Several students living on the block ran out into the street when they heard Koeppel screaming and watched as police and an ambulance arrived to help her. Onlookers said she was conscious the entire time. "One of the most disturbing things is to hear a girl scream and know you can't do anything about it," one student said. Several students said they were surprised that the crowd of approximately 20 people did not panic. They said prompt police response helped keep the crowd calm. They said police cars were on the scene within minutes, and officers kept people from getting too close to the victim. Emergency Medical Services officials said Sunday that Koeppel was taken to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Center City because it was the nearest hospital with an open trauma center. The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania has a certified trauma center but the center was closed Friday and Sunday and will be closed again Thursday because of a lack of available surgeons, according a letter from the hospital to the city ambulance directors. Staff writers Emily Culbertson, Christine Lutton and Andrew Libby contributed to this story.Comments powered by Disqus
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