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Student from Butler County dies at Gannon University

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By John D. Oravecz
Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, 1:48 p.m.

Erie police and the coroner's office there are investigating the death of a Gannon University student who was found unresponsive between two downtown buildings.

Abrielle Marie Brynda, 21, of Zelienople died on Saturday night in UPMC Hamot, said Erie police Lt. Tony Talarico. Authorities were unclear on how she died.

Brynda was a junior nursing major and member of Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority at the private Catholic school, said Gannon President Keith Taylor. She was a graduate of Seneca Valley High School.

“Last night the staff from campus ministries, students, residents, sorority and fraternity members all came together in gatherings at a variety of places on campus,” Taylor said on Sunday. “Those gatherings continue today and will for several weeks.

“When we have joy and when we have tragedy, we come together,” Taylor said. “She was very much a part of her sorority, which is involved in the mission of service on our campus. It is a very strong group of women who are using that strength to stay together today.”

A woman who answered the phone at Brynda's home in Zelienople said the family was not prepared to comment.

Taylor said the police and coroner's investigation into Brynda's death has not been completed and is not expected to be for a few days. “At this point, we have incomplete information, and we don't want to get into what could have or should have happened until complete information comes from the Erie police, which is leading the investigation.”

Police Chief Randy Bowers and Erie County Coroner Lyell P. Cook could not be reached for comment.

According to Talarico, passers-by found Brynda between two buildings at West 12th and Sassafras streets.

“All of us here at Seneca Valley were profoundly and deeply saddened to hear of Abbie Brynda's passing. A member of the Seneca Valley Class of 2011, we will remember her as a young and vibrant woman who was selfless in her actions,” Seneca Valley spokeswoman Linda Andreassi wrote in an emailed statement. “As a senior, her graduation project, ‘The Walk for Natalie,' raised nearly $7,000 to help purchase a service dog for a family friend with a rare genetic disorder. She called it ‘a true journey.' ”

John D. Oravecz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7882 or

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