Students, friends hold vigil for UNCC student after deadly fall from party bus

(Ben Williamson | WBTV)
(Ben Williamson | WBTV)

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Friends and students at UNC Charlotte are holding a vigil Sunday for a student who was killed in a tragic party bus accident Tuesday.

A UNC Charlotte fraternity chapter was suspended after the 20-year-old student died after falling off a party bus Tuesday evening.

UNC Charlotte sophomore Polly Miranda Rogers was riding a Charlotte Party Charter bus when she fell out of the emergency window around 10:30 p.m. in the 4500 block of N Tryon Street. Rogers was then struck by two vehicles, police said. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police said they have talked to one of the drivers who struck Rogers and are looking for the second. There is no description for that second vehicle.

The Kappa Sigma Fraternity suspended the operations of the Kappa-Omega Chapter at UNC Charlotte as the investigation into the deadly incident continues.

According to the police report, alcohol was being consumed on the bus, but alcohol use as a factor in Rogers' death is still under investigation. Several of Rogers' friends said Kappa Sigma was the group who rented the party bus.

Thursday, Kappa Sigma released the following statement on the fraternity chapter's suspension:

"The Brothers of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Polly Rogers. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Rogers family and to her loved ones. The Kappa Sigma Fraternity has suspended the operations of our Kappa-Omega Chapter at the University of North Carolina Charlotte , and we are in the process of conducting an investigation of the event on Tuesday evening. The Kappa Sigma Fraternity will fully cooperate with all investigations of the University and local authorities."

Charlotte Party Charter owner Victor Rabb said there were about 55 to 60 people on the bus when the trip started at UNCC's campus. The bus was headed to a bar in uptown Charlotte from an off-campus home on Mallard Creek Road - where Kappa Sigma is located - when Rogers fell out.

According to the police report, while the bus was in the left lane on N. Tryon Street, an emergency window opened and Rogers fell out and into the center travel lane, where she was hit by at least two vehicles.

Alcohol is allowed to be brought onto the bus, according to Charlotte Party Charter's website. The site also states everyone on the bus must be at least 21 years old if alcohol is present, but the company says they are not responsible for verifying the ages of the passengers.

The party bus company claims it's the responsibility of the group to make sure everyone on board is 21 and over.

Rob Tufano, a spokesman for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police, told reporters the investigation would be thorough - wanting to do it right instead of fast.

Charlotte Party Charters may be facing additional questions beyond CMPD. Safety records with the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration list the company on West Freedom Drive even though we found them in Gaston County.

Federal documents say the company has three vehicles, eight drivers, and zero inspections.

Rabb says he's coopering with investigators, but his thoughts are in another place.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family. I have kids too," he said.

Those who knew the 20-year-old, like her coworkers at the YMCA, say she was loving, adventurous and unforgettable.

"I don't know if she knew how much of an impact she had on the people around her," one coworker said.

Rogers volunteered at that YMCA with children with autism.

She was studying special education at UNCC, school officials said.

RELATED ARTICLE: Campus in shock over UNCC student death

A student says Rogers was in the university's Zeta Tau Alpha sorority. Rogers' sorority sisters created a GoFundMe page to help with memorial costs. "This tragedy has left unexpected expenses placed on the Rogers family," the GoFundMe post states.

There will be a vigil at the quad in her memory, on Sunday at 5 pm.

Anyone with additional information about the second vehicle that may have struck Rogers is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.

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