Wharton Student Dies In Freak Accident

Headshot of Zachary Woods

Zachary Woods

Just days after moving to Philadelphia to start the prestigious Lauder Program as an MBA at Wharton, 27-year-old Zachary Woods was killed yesterday (May 6) by an out-of-control car in a freak accident. The incident occurred in the morning as Woods was on his way to only his second day of school at The Lauder Institute.

The 24-month, MBA joint-program begins in early May and includes a summer of study, comprising four weeks on campus followed by an 8-week summer immersion program abroad prior to starting Wharton. Woods arrived in Philadelphia on Sunday to start his studies that would also lead to an MA in international studies.

The Wharton School confirmed the tragedy with a tweet this morning (May 7): “We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of one of our students, and pause to express our condolences to his family and friends.” Wharton Dean Thomas Robertson had emailed members of the Wharton community today before the tweet went out.

Woods, who graduated with his bachelor’s degree from Middlebury College in Chinese and history in 2009, was an exceptional young man. He applied to the highly selective Lauder Program after helping to raise more than $1 billion from immigrant investors in the previous two and one-half years for the New York City Regional Center, where he was assistant general manager. Woods raised the money from immigrant investors in China under a U.S. government program that provides green cards to foreign nationals who invest money in the U.S.

WOODS HAD DONE BUSINESS IN 35 DIFFERENT CHINESE CITIES

Fluent in Mandarin, Woods had traveled extensively throughout China to promote the program and he had also previously worked as a project manager in China for the Western Water Group. On his LinkedIn page, Woods described himself as a “driven and adaptable international fundraiser” who raised over $1 billion for public-private real estate development projects in New York. He called himself “comfortable and charismatic presenting in-depth financial information to large crowds” and said he had done business in 35 different Chinese cities.

A former employer who wrote a recommendation for Zachary Woods on LinkedIn called him an “exceptional worker. He’s smart, diligent and industrious. He completed every project and task with excellence and care,” wrote Chris Jahrmarkt, a partner at Northlight Financial in New York City, where Woods had interned during the summer of 2008.

Woods was apparently walking on the sidewalk of a bridge when the freak accident occurred on Walnut St. at 30th at 9:54 a.m. According to local media accounts, a 69-year-old man driving a Toyota Camry west on Walnut and a 43-year-old man driving a Mercury Montego south on 30th collided, sending the Montego spinning out of control – and toward Woods who was walking on the overpass’ sidewalk nearby. The Wharton student tried to leap out of the way and grabbed onto a traffic light, according to University of Pennsylvania public-safety officials. But the car hit the pole, sending both Woods and the traffic light plunging nearly 50 feet to the concrete roadway below.

Zachary Woods was pronounced dead from injuries at 10 p.m. last night at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. The Montego’s driver remains in critical condition at HUP with head injuries and leg injuries. The Toyota’s driver was treated for unspecified injuries.

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