News | University

Man charged in accident killing senior Rebecca DeNardis, injuring others

The driver who struck a van of Duke students returning from spring break—killing senior Rebecca DeNardis and seriously injuring another student—has been charged with drunk driving.

DeNardis was one of seven students in a van struck by another vehicle Friday on Interstate 10 in Florida, according to a Duke News article. Another student was seriously injured and airlifted to a nearby hospital, where he was said to be in stable condition Saturday. The driver who hit the students, Martin Zachary Hale, is facing charges of one count of DUI manslaughter, one count of DUI serious bodily injury, six counts of DUI injury and one count DUI property damage, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

The van was driven by Nathan McKinnis, director of the Duke Outdoor Adventures program. The students were returning to Durham after a five-day canoeing and camping trip along with four other students and a part-time staff member, who were traveling in a truck that was not involved in the accident.

The other students in the van were sophomores Mandy Jiang and Lynn Zhang, juniors James Ferguson and Anne Piotrowski and senior Shannon Kalsow, said David Jarmul, associate vice president for news and communications. He declined to comment on the name or status of the injured student.

The Northwest Daily Florida News reported the injured student as senior Joao Marcos Correia Marques.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol report, Hale—a 25-year-old from Jemison, Ala.—was driving east on I-10 when he drove across the grass median and struck the students, who were traveling west. Both vehicles flipped over.

Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta wrote an email to the student body stating that memorial plans for DeNardis will develop throughout the next couple of days. He added that students can reach out to residence hall advisers, Counseling and Psychological Services and academic advisers for support.

"We are numbed by this terrible loss and will need each other's love and caring as we cope and grieve," Moneta wrote.

DeNardis was a recipient of the Braxton Craven Scholarship, a full scholarship that pays for a student's tuition during their four years as an undergraduate student. A double major in computer science and mathematics, DeNardis was a dean's list student throughout her time at Duke. She was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's oldest academic honor society. Beyond her academics, DeNardis was a member of the selective living group Round Table. DeNardis planned to work at Google upon graduating this Spring.

Students and staff members affected by the incident stayed in a hotel Friday night and flew back to Durham Saturday.

A previous version of this article stated that the driver who hit the students, Martin Zachary Hale, faced charges of one count of DUI manslaughter, one count of DUI serious bodily injury, six counts of DUI injury and one count DUI property damage. Hale is currently facing charges. The Chronicle regrets the error.