Kitchener-Waterloo

Laurier's dean of students killed after being hit by car near MacGregor school

Wilfrid Laurier University's dean of students, Leanne Holland Brown, was killed after a vehicle hit her near MacGregor school in Waterloo on Wednesday.

Charges are pending after crash that killed Leanne Holland Brown, police say

Leanne Holland Brown was Wilfrid Laurier Unversity's dean of students for its Waterloo campus. (Wilfrid Laurier University)

Wilfrid Laurier University's dean of students, Leanne Holland Brown, was killed after a vehicle hit her near MacGregor school in Waterloo on Wednesday.

Flags have been lowered around the university campus in her honour. 

Holland Brown was walking along Central Street, near Laurier, around 1:50 p.m.

Police say a Nissan Altima left the road and hit a woman before striking a hydro pole. University officials confirmed that person was Holland Brown. 

She taken to a local hospital, then airlifted to Hamilton where she died of her injuries on Wednesday night. She was 43. 

The 56-year-old man who was driving the vehicle that hit Holland Brown was taken to hospital with minor injures. 

On Wednesday, police said charges were pending and that the investigation was continuing.

The university said information about a memorial service would be released once arrangements have been made.

'Compassionate individual'

Holland Brown had worked in the Laurier's Residence Life Department and the Student Leadership Centre before becoming the university's dean of students in 2010.

David McMurray, the vice president of student affairs, worked closely with Holland Brown for nearly 20 years

"Leanne was an absolute champion in supporting students, in so many multiple ways," McMurray told CBC News.

"Whether it was in crisis, whether it was supports, a simple act of kindness, or whether it was a challenging leadership opportunity that tested the student's ability to their max."

McMurray said there has been an outpouring of condolences and stories on social media, from people whose lives were touched by Holland Brown. 

Samantha Estoesta, a friend and former colleague of Holland Brown, remembers how she helped her through a difficult time in her life.

"I say this with the most absolute certainty that without Leanne Holland Brown ... I would not be here today," Estoesta said.

Estoesta added that Holland Brown continued to check in with her, even after she left the university. 

"You don't find those kinds of relationships very often, it's very rare. And I think that's why so many people are sharing stories about how much of an impact that she made in their lives."

Samantha Estoesta (fourth on the left) met Leanne Holland Brown (back right) when she start working at Wilfred Laurier University in 2013. This photo was taken during a student leader retreat. Estoesta says it was only her second day of work, but Holland Brown went out of her way to ensure she could attend. (Supplied)

In a release Thursday, university president Deborah MacLatchy called Holland Brown "a loving and compassionate individual who embodied the Laurier spirit and sense of community."

"She enriched the lives of all who had the privilege of knowing her, and she will be deeply missed," MacLatchy said.

"[She] was a beloved colleague and generous friend who helped and supported many students and co-workers during her years at Laurier."

University officials said support is available through: 

  • The Student Wellness Centre: 519.884.0710 x3146 or wellness@wlu.ca.
  • Delton Glebe Counselling Centre: 519.884.3305 or glebecentre@wlu.ca.
  • Laurier Human Resources and the Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP).

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