Just two days before she was going to walk across the stage at Liberty University’s 40th Commencement, 25-year-old undergraduate student Rebecca Velker was killed in an automobile accident in Louisiana while traveling from Houston, Texas, to Lynchburg, Va., for the May 11 ceremony.
Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. asked for prayers for the family during Commencement and released this statement today: “We are deeply saddened by Rebecca's tragic death,” he said. “I announced at Commencement that she was killed en route to the ceremony but was unaware she was planning to graduate. Our prayers are with Vincent and her family in Japan.”
According to news reports, Velker was driving the car traveling east on I-10 through Breaux Bridge, La., on May 9 with two other passengers when she crossed a median and oncoming traffic before hitting a tree. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Her husband, alumnus Vincent Hogue (’12, B.S. Exercise Science) was injured in the wreck. There is currently no confirmed information on the other passenger but neither Hogue nor the other passenger suffered life-threatening injuries. The cause of the crash is still unknown; alcohol is not presumed to be a factor and everyone was reportedly wearing their seatbelts.
University records indicate Velker, a resident student, was an honors student with a 3.76 GPA. She had completed 137 credit hours and had earned her B.S. in history with a minor in business. She began her education at Liberty in the Fall 2009 semester.
Velker and Hogue married in June 2009. They lived in Lynchburg and were active in their church while attending Liberty, save Velker’s final semester. In January they moved to Houston where Velker obtained an internship and Hogue now works as a performance coach. Both are from Okinawa, Japan. A memorial service was held in Louisiana and a funeral is planned in Okinawa at a date yet to be determined.
A fund has been set up to assist Hogue with hospital bills. Mail donations to USAA Federal Savings Bank, 10750 McDermott Freeway, San Antonio, Texas 78288-9876 (memo: Vincent Hogue), or call (800) 531-8722 (Mastercard only).