UMass Dartmouth freshman killed by vehicle, second student death in week

Apr 7, 2023

This story has been updated.

UMass Dartmouth freshman Frank A. Petillo Jr. was struck and killed by a vehicle on campus Thursday, April 6, according to the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office.

Campus police received a call at about 5:30 p.m. that a motor vehicle had struck a pedestrian on campus. Petillo was found lying on Ring Road with significant injuries, the district attorney’s office reported. 

He was transported to St. Luke’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead, the district attorney’s office said.

The student who was driving the vehicle involved, a gray Honda Accord, was located at the scene.

The incident is being investigated by the Massachusetts State Police Detective Unit assigned to the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office along with the Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section Unit  of the Massachusetts State Police.

UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Mark Fuller wrote in a message to the school community that Petillo, a bioengineering student from Manahawkin, N.J., will be “sorely missed,’’ Fuller wrote. He urged the community to “keep Frank's family, friends, and classmates in your thoughts and prayers.’’

This was the second death of a student this week. Alexandra Landry, a student in the master’s in fine arts program, died earlier in the week, according to a statement from the university. 

She was described as a “a valued member of the College of Visual and Performing Arts community who brought deep talent and passion to her work. ‘’

Her most recent paintings are being exhibited now at the Star Store University Gallery in downtown New Bedford in the master’s of fine arts exhibition, the university reported. “They stand as a strong testament to her life and art,’’ a message sent to the campus community said.

A candlelight vigil for Petillo and Landry will take place at 8 p.m. Monday April 10 in front of the library, according to the university’s social media.

“This has been a very difficult week for the Corsair community,’’ Fuller’s message reads in part. “We feel a collective pain even if we do not personally know those who have passed. We sit in class together. We work together. We pass each other in the halls. We are often more connected than we realize.’’

He urged anyone in need of support to reach out. 

Hours at the Counseling Center will be extended until 7 p.m. Friday, April 7, Fuller reported. The after-hours Support Help Line can be reached at (508) 910-4357.

The Center for Religious and Spiritual Life has campus ministers from several faith traditions who provide confidential pastoral counseling and can be reached at (508) 999-8872.

 Information about resources that assist with wellness and academic success can be reached at

Fuller also encouraged faculty and staff needing support to call Human Resources at (508) 999-8060 to take advantage of the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for free counseling. EAP benefits may be accessed by calling (844) 393-4983.