USM student killed in Dominican Republic truck accident

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PORTLAND (AP) – A 27-year-old Standish woman was killed in a truck accident in the Dominican Republican while visiting the Caribbean country with other nursing students from the University of the Southern Maine, university officials said Friday.

Laura Vogel was killed Thursday when a truck in which she was riding hit a muddy patch and overturned in the town of Palo Blanco. Besides being a student at USM, Vogel was a nurse at Maine Medical Center in Portland.

There were 20 to 25 students and volunteers involved in the accident, the university said. Two undergraduate nursing majors are hospitalized at Centro Medico Bournigal hospital in Puerto Plata on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. One suffered a shoulder injuries and the other internal injuries, USM’s Office of Public Affairs said.

Their identities were not being released as of Friday evening. USM instructor of nursing Carol Doane, a trip organizer, is with them at the hospital.

A few other students received injuries, but did not require hospitalization, the university said.

The accident occurred at approximately 9 a.m. Thursday when the second of two trucks carrying the group, which totaled about 70 USM students and volunteers, slid on a patch of muddy road, and rolled over. The truck was driven by a local Dominican, who was not injured, the university said in a statement.

The group left the United States on Dec. 30 and were scheduled to return mid-January.

Twice a year, USM nursing students and faculty, local physicians, and health volunteers spend two weeks in the Dominican Republic providing personal care and health education to roughly 2,500 patients in 16 rural villages.

This is the 12th year of the program established by USM’s College of Nursing and Health Professions. USM and Partners for Rural Health in the Dominican Republic, a private nonprofit organization based in Maine, have jointly managed the program since 2004.

No decisions have been made as to when the group will return to the United States, according to the university.

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