SYRACUSE, N.Y. — At least 36 students in Syracuse University's semester-in-London program who were returning to America for the holidays were killed in Wednesday's crash of a Pan Am jumbo jet in Scotland, officials said.
News of the disaster that left all 258 people aboard the plane dead stunned the Syracuse campus as the day's final exams were being completed and students were gathering for parties or preparing to watch their undefeated basketball team play Western Michigan.
The game went on, but the partying ended, and many students walked across campus in tears. They gathered in clusters in front of television sets, anxiously waiting for fresh news about the tragedy.
The Syracuse students were among 250 from various schools who studied in England for the semester and were heading home for the Christmas holidays, the university's Division of International Programs Abroad said.
38 Booked on Flight
In all, there were 38 Syracuse students booked on Pan Am Flight 103 from London to New York, and 36 were confirmed to have been aboard, Syracuse Chancellor Melvin Eggers said.
Officials said 29 of the 38 were enrolled at Syracuse University and nine were registered at other colleges but were students in the school's semester-in-London program.
One of the victims, Steven Berrell, a junior from Fargo, N.D., had just been accepted into the Phi Delta Theta fraternity last spring before deciding to join the London program.
"He was just a nice, sweet, outgoing guy from North Dakota," said John Feehan, the fraternity's treasurer. "We're just sitting around, looking at each other. Nobody can believe it."
Another student believed aboard the ill-fated Boeing 747 was Wendy Lincoln, a graphics design student from North Adams, Mass.
"She is a beautiful girl, inside and out," her mother, Shirley Lincoln, said on WTEN-TV as she clutched a rosary. "I don't think there's one person who knows her who doesn't like her."
At the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house, students sat stunned by the television set, wondering how they would get through their remaining finals knowing that their fraternity brother, Richard Monetti, 20, of Cherry Hill, N.J., would not be coming back.
"You see plane crashes on the TV, but when it's somebody you know, somebody you've lived with, it really hits home. He was great," said Tristan Welling, a sophomore, as he choked backed tears.
Welling said several members of the fraternity decided to skip the basketball game to attend an interfaith prayer vigil hastily called at Hendricks Chapel on the Syracuse University campus.
Despite the tragedy, Syracuse decided to go ahead with its game against Western Michigan at the 30,000-seat Carrier Dome, but the school called for a moment of silence for the crash victims.