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Light Rail Victim Identified

Rice University architecture student identified as victim in light rail accident; METRO investigation continues

Vivian Ziwei Guan girl hit, killed by light rail July 2013 RUN FLAT
Rice architecture student Vivian Ziwei Guan, 20, was fatally struck by a METRO train on Monday. Photo courtesy of Rice University

A young architecture student from Rice University has been identified as the victim in a tragic METRO accident at Main and Walker on Monday.

Vivian Ziwei Guan took a northbound light rail train to her summer internship at the offices of Ziegler Cooper Architects, which recently relocated to downtown's Bank of America Center on Louisiana. Disembarking at her usual Main Street Square stop, the 20-year-old was fatally struck by a southbound train as she crossed the intersection with her bicycle.

KHOU reports that Guan, a soon-to-be junior, had been preparing to return home to New Zealand before the start of the fall semester on Aug. 26. 

“Vivian was very special in the way that she combined such enthusiasm and intelligence in her work and also for the energy that she brought to the school," said Rice architecture dean Sarah Whiting in a statement from the university.

Architect and summer mentor Scott Ziegler, himself a Rice graduate, called her enthusiasm for design "infectious."

“Whenever we placed Vivian on a new assignment, she mastered it with a quick study and was always ready to take on something new . . . The entire office at Ziegler Cooper Architects has Vivian and her family in our prayers.”

A METRO official told CultureMap on Monday that eyewitnesses noted that the train operator was blowing the horn moments before the accident, which closed service between Main Street Station and the University of Houston Downtown for about three hours. There have been unconfirmed reports that Guan was wearing headphones. A full investigation of the intersection and its safety features is ongoing.

"Vivian was one of those rare students who stood out from the rest because of her incredible intuitive talent, intellect and optimism," said Guan's former professor John Casbarian.

"She was an absolute joy to have in studio, always curious and so excited about every challenge ahead. It’s hard now to imagine school without her."

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