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Daughter of La Salle University president dies in accident at home

Philadelphia police said they found the 18-year-old unconscious in her family's Chestnut Hill home Sunday evening.

LaSalle University president Colleen Hanycz greets juniors Marissa Beaver, center, and Emily Paynter, right in September.
LaSalle University president Colleen Hanycz greets juniors Marissa Beaver, center, and Emily Paynter, right in September.Read moreEd Hille / Staff Photographer

Emily Hanycz, the daughter of La Salle University president Colleen Hanycz and a freshman in the university's honors program, died Sunday in an accident at the family's home in Philadelphia, according to a university spokeswoman.

"All we know is that this was very unexpected," spokeswoman Jaine Lucas said.

Lucas said Monday that she was unable to provide additional details about the accident, and that the university was respecting the family's privacy at this time.

Philadelphia police said they responded to the family's Chestnut Hill home shortly before 9 p.m. Sunday. Inside, they found the 18-year-old unconscious. She was taken to Chestnut Hill Hospital, where she was pronounced dead, police said.

Colleen Hanycz has served as the president of the Catholic university since 2015, when she became the first lay person and first woman to take the post. Before coming to La Salle, she headed Brescia University College in Ontario.

Emily Hanycz graduated last year from Mount St. Joseph Academy in Flourtown. According to a La Salle magazine article, Emily Hanycz was a competitive horseback rider in high school.

"The entire Mount community is shaken and terribly saddened by this devastating news," the school said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Hanycz family, Emily's friends, and the La Salle University community."

Her former teachers at the private Catholic girls school remembered the teenager as a passionate, meticulous student who was beloved by many.

She started at the school her junior year, they said, after her family moved to the area from Canada. However, she quickly fit in; many were drawn to her bubbly personality, quirky sense of  humor, and kind spirit.

"I saw a picture of Emily today and I was reminded of what a happy person she was," said fine arts teacher Donald Holdren. "She always had a smile on her face, even in tough times."

"As a teacher, we encounter those students who touch our lives a little deeper than the rest," said math teacher Kerrianne Kane. "She was a student who made me want to be a better teacher."

Hanycz was serious about her education and her faith, teachers said, and always threw herself into the things she loved —  be it music, theater, or her studies. But she was also quick to lend a hand to those in need or to brighten somebody's day.

"It was the fun-loving, quirky side, along with the biggest smile, which left an indelible mark on my heart," said English teacher Katherine King.

And as news of Hanycz's death spread Monday, friends, too, began sharing memories on social media.

Classmate Julia Hawthorne wrote: "RIP beautiful. You and your contagious laugh/smile will never be forgotten."

In addition to her mother, Emily Hanycz is survived by her father, Peter; brother Erik, who attends La Salle; and a sister, Claire.