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Norwell woman dies after fall from bus

Riding with sister in Virgin Islands

Sarah Dargon, 20, was working as a summer intern on the island of St. John. Sarah Dargon, 20, was working as a summer intern on the island of St. John.
By L. Finch
Globe Correspondent / July 7, 2011

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A Norwell woman died Monday after she fell out of a safari bus in the US Virgin Islands in what her family called a freak accident.

Sarah Dargon, 20, who was working as an intern at an eco-friendly resort on the island of St. John for the summer, was seated at the rear of a safari bus - a type of converted flat-bed pickup with bench seats and a roof - with her sister, Laura Dargon, 18, heading to a campground around 9:30 p.m. Sunday, said Melody Rames, public information officer for the US Virgin Islands police.

Her sister told police that she was texting during the ride, and when she looked up, Sarah was no longer there. She alerted the driver, who turned the truck around and found Sarah lying on her back in the road, with injuries to her head and scrapes on her body, police said.

Sarah was taken to a local health center and transferred to a medical center on the island of St. Thomas, before being airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, where she died Monday morning, according to the Miami-Dade medical examiner’s office.

The safari bus, used in lieu of traditional taxicab vehicles on the island, was traveling about 20 miles per hour when it apparently hit a bump, causing Dargon to fall out the side, her father, Richard Dargon, said yesterday.

“It was a freak thing,’’ he said. “It was just a tragic accident.’’

An account of the accident posted on the island’s Police Department website stated that the women had been drinking and were intoxicated at the time, but the Dargon family vehemently disputed that report.

The family said that doctors who treated their daughter, whose organs were donated after her death, did not find any indication of alcohol and that police never notified them that alcohol was involved in the accident. The account on the police website, which did not specify how police determined the women were intoxicated, also provided an incorrect age for Sarah, as well as her date of death.

Dargon was a 2008 graduate of Norwell High School, where she was a member of the National Honor Society and the tennis team, her father said. She attended Northeastern University for a year before transferring to Vanderbilt University in Nashville and hoped to earn a master’s in education, he said.

Richard Dargon said his daughter loved children and had volunteered for several schools and educational organizations, including area elementary and middle schools. Sarah also tutored underprivileged children through Vanderbilt’s Vanderbuddies program, volunteered in Costa Rica through Alternative Spring Break, and worked with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Dargon was also a longtime altar server for St. Helen Church in Norwell and religious education teacher, her father said.

“She was just an outgoing, caring, loving person,’’ he said. “She was just a phenomenal young lady.’’

L. Finch can be reached at lfinch@globe.com.