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CLAREMONT, Calif. – A student attending Western CUNA Management School who was severely injured in a golf cart accident has died. Helen Hosea, 40, was a consumer lending and operations manager with Burbank City Employees FCU. She was a first year student at the Western CUNA Management School (WCMS) which is held at Pomona College in Claremont, Calif. The accident happened on July 16. “There were some students riding in an electric cart on their way back from a place called the Sontag Amphitheater and going to the dorm. She exited the cart while it was in motion. It’s not clear whether she stepped out or fell out, but she hit her head,” said Jim Likens, a professor of economics at Pomona College who has been running the Western CUNA Management School since 1975. “Campus safety was called and when they arrived they called 911 and decided to have her flown by helicopter to a medical center,” said Likens. WCMS kept in close contact with Hosea’s family, and Likens was informed by her family on July 23 that she had died. “It’s a very unfortunate incident and we’re deeply saddened by it,” said Likens. Hosea had two young children, Charles (10) and Christopher (11). Likens said the accident occurred in the early morning hours of Tuesday July 16, somewhere between 1:00 and 2:00 a.m. Hosea and other students attended a welcoming volleyball event that started at 7:00 p.m. Monday evening. Likens wasn’t sure when it ended, but pointed out that the school has an 11:00 p.m. curfew for attendees. Western CUNA Management School isn’t like a typical education conference. Students essentially go back to college for two weeks. They live in the dorms on the Pomona College campus and eat at on-campus facilities. Students attend classes for two-weeks once a year for three years. The school is typically well-attended. There were 112 students in Hosea’s first year class, and 405 total. Western CUNA Management School was established in 1959 and is administered through a management agreement with the California CU League. After its first 11 years at the UCLA campus, the school moved to Pomona College in 1972. The school says it has a strict curfew of 11:00 p.m., which Hosea and some other students were in violation of that night. Ironically, just a few weeks before the school started a memo was distributed to attendees by David Ellings, Director of Campus Activities with WCMS, that addressed safety issues of after-curfew activities around the Sontag Amphitheater. “In a meeting with Pomona College, a discussion was held on the use of the Sontag Amphitheater by students after curfew for networking purposes. These gatherings were not sponsored by WCMS and have raised issue to students’ safety and campus and school liability. The college maintenance and grounds personnel have commented on the mess left by students of the WCMS and extra work it causes them to clean up. A concern of the school staff is the unsafe environment the amphitheater provides: No proper lighting which could result in unsafe footing and possible spills and falls. Several students have shown up to class the next day bruised and scraped from a previous evening’s fall,” stated Ellings. One second year student said the steep terrain around the Sontag Amphitheater combined with the alcohol served at the “bar” make for a dangerous combination. Steve Fifield, VP of Branches & Member Service for Cyprus CU, Magna, Utah, said there is heavy emphasis on what is called the bar at the school, because it plays a key role in fundraising activities. During the two-week period, each class holds about five events where fundraising is a main priority. Money is raised by the selling of t-shirts, dinner tickets, drink tickets and other techniques. “I think that it (drinking) is encouraged by the administration of the Western CUNA Management School. They want that because they realize that it’s a big part of how funds are raised,” said Fifield. Likens said alcohol is in no way a focus of the school or any individual event. “I think that’s an exaggeration. At any credit union function there are receptions and alcohol is served. It’s part of our culture. It is not a party school. It is a very serious place with a fine reputation,” said Likens. He said the focus of the events are the themes, such as Hawaiian night or Mardi Gras, and their real value is outstanding networking opportunities. Fundraising is also a goal, said Likens. Students do bring alcohol to the campus to stock their class’s bar. Second year students provide the first year class with seed money to start their bar. This year the initial contribution to start the bar was $9,000. Fifield said although students pay $1,750 to attend the school, the dinners, drinks and other items sold at the fundraising events can wind up costing students hundreds more dollars. The events are successful. Fifield’s class raised $30,000 in its two years. Likens said all the money goes back into the school in the form of scholarships for future attendees and school expenses. Fifield said the Hosea death emphasizes that Pomona College security should have a presence at these events where the bar is open, or shut down the bar. He said it is “widely known” among many students that Hosea had been drinking. Likens would not comment on that, only saying the incident is under investigation. Claremont Police Department Lieutenant Stan Van Horn said there is an ongoing hit and run investigation into the incident. Van Horn said no one from WCMS called the police about the incident, but a few days following the accident an administrator from the Pomona College called and asked the police to investigate. “Since no one called us to alert us this happened, and even though it’s private property, under the California Vehicle Code it’s being investigated as a hit and run,” said Van Horn. He said the police won’t know the role alcohol may have played until they get the coroner’s report, but he knows that drinking was going on amongst students that night. “I think there’s a likelihood that these people were just having a good time, sitting around having a party where people have been drinking, and it’s just an incredibly unfortunate accident,” said Van Horn. “I can’t state categorically if alcohol played a part until the coroner gets back to us.” Van Horn did say that the police believe that a college employee, not someone from WCMS, was driving the cart, though there were other students in the cart. Michael Robinson an attorney of Anderson, McPharlin and Conners LLP is representing WCMS in this matter. Robinson said he was just recently hired by WCMS so he was still investigating the case. “My understanding is that she either stepped or fell out of this moving cart. Whether or not there will be litigation on this matter, I don’t know. I haven’t been contacted by any attorneys,” said Robinson. Karen Introcaso, class president of the second year class and VP of Lending and Operations at Spectrum FCU, San Francisco, said the school presents excellent education and networking opportunities, and is not a party school for the majority of students. “It’s what you make of it. I would say you have your typical people who like to party, that’s what they choose to do,” said Introcaso. “I have so much respect for Dr. Likens and the school. I have learned a tremendous amount. It’s really one of the best education opportunities,” said Introcaso. She said the networking is invaluable. “You can spend a lot of time with people who may be doing something your credit union wants to do, whether it’s risk-based lending or selling a card portfolio,” she said. As for the Hosea incident, Intracoso said it’s very unfortunate, and regrettable that she did not follow the curfew. “We’re all adults and unfortunately we can’t be baby sat,” said Introcaso. She said she hopes neither the school nor Dr. Likens’ reputation is hurt by this tragic accident. “I can’t tell you how much he means to me and the credit union movement. The school was not to blame,” she said. Not all agree with Introcaso’s point of view. Rhonda Taylor, president/CEO of Puyallup City Employees FCU, Washington, said the school, while providing good education, is a bit of a party school. She said the Sontag Amphitheater has long been known amongst students as the “pit”, where drinking is a main activity. “I have been disappointed in the focus of the night time activity. It was still her (Helen Hosea’s) responsibility, but the school should not sanction the drinking. The liquor is the biggest moneymaker. There are a lot of people in my class who are totally upset about this whole thing,” said Taylor. She said after any class event where the bar is present, the bar is then moved to another area. For years it was the Sontag Amphitheater, but this year it was moved to another location said Taylor, which she said is WCMS recognizing the danger of the Amphitheater. Taylor said she was not with Hosea but heard from other classmates that she had been drinking. Lieutenant Van Horn said although alcohol was definitely present no conclusions can be made until the coroner’s report is made available. A private memorial service was held Thursday, July 25 at 8 a.m. in Bridges Hall of Music on the Pomona College Campus for WCMS students. Representatives from Helen’s family were in attendance. [email protected]

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