‘Tragic and heartbreaking’: VCU student killed in crash

Shawn Soares was walking on the sidewalk when he was struck
Virginia Commonwealth University says a student died Thursday evening in a traffic crash.
Published: May. 5, 2023 at 12:25 PM EDT|Updated: May. 5, 2023 at 2:23 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Virginia Commonwealth University says a student died Thursday evening in a traffic crash.

VCU says in an online post that Shawn Soares died in the incident in the 300 block of West Main Street.

“Shawn’s death is tragic and heartbreaking. I knew Shawn and worked with him on many issues,” said VCU President Michael Rao on Friday. “He was an exceptionally positive force in our world and was living to make the lives of everyone better. He was one of the best students I’ve ever known.”

Soares worked at the Virginia Conservation Network while studying for his Masters degree in Business Administration.

“{It’s} just frustrating, I’ve spent all morning just fielding calls who cared about him because he touched so many peoples lives,” said Wyatt Gordon, Soares’ coworker. “He’s just someone who had a lot of talent and he was a rising star. He was coming here he was only here last night because he wanted to get his MBA, he was a curious person he always wanted to expand his horizons,” he said.

Soares was also a member of the Virginia Young Democrats. That group says Shawn “is an irreplaceable member of our community and we all will continue to honor and to live up to his memory.”

Soares was walking on the sidewalk when a car hit him.

“Officers arrived and found two vehicles had been operating westbound on West Main Street when they collided,” the Richmond Police Department said Friday afternoon. “One vehicle left the roadway and struck a pole and an adult male on the sidewalk. The vehicle continued and impacted a building.”

Soares, 26, died at the scene.

“It’s really rocked the Richmond city community and Virginia as a whole because he did so much work and I don’t know how we can not improve conditions,” said Maryn Campbell, a classmate of Shawn Soares.

His classmates said he touched more lives than only the VCU community.

“Both vehicles remained on the scene,” police said. “The investigators have not yet placed charges in this incident.”

Rao said in his post that “major change” is needed to Richmond’s streets and sidewalks at VCU.

“The university is 100 percent committed to making improvements and is counting on the city to partner with us,” Rao said.

Earlier this year, VCU launched a pedestrian safety campaign. Police on campus have also increased traffic enforcement.

“VCU will enact meaningful change to the city streets on and adjacent to campus through our partnership with the city,” Rao’s post.

“We’d be looking at doing temporary barriers so essentially trying to use things we have sort of off the shelf, said Erik Bootsma, with the Richmond Safe and Healthy Commission. “We can take a set of jersey barriers and put them up in problem areas,” he said.

Anyone with information about Thursday’s incident is asked to contact RPD Crash Team Investigator D. Olson at 804-646-1664 or call Crime Stoppers at 804-780-1000.