The loss had been significant and the effects tragic, Choni Lin told a crowd that had gathered Sept. 28 near Capital University's Yochum Hall.
Lin and Jeanne-Marie Dennis told the group what they knew -- something happened the night of Sept. 27 in Battelle Hall and police officers and medical teams had been deployed.
But they were interrupted before they could finish their statements by a slow-moving, blood-stained, tattered mob that had crept in near their microphone.
"At this point, we're going to cut off this press conference," said Lin, a senior psychology and public-relations major. "Please stay calm. Run and hide. We'll have more information soon."
After Sept. 28, Lin, Dennis and dozens of other Capital University students could add an unusual line to their resumes: "Handled a zombie apocalypse."
Faculty at the private Bexley university organized the fictional zombie invasion as a way for communications, media, journalism and other students to get realistic experience dealing with a crisis. Students were told there would be a special event on campus, but the details were largely kept under wraps until it got started.
The exercise forced students to think on their feet about how to effectively communicate details of a crisis and gather facts about a breaking news event.
"Eventually in their careers they're going have to cover and deal with a crisis," said Kelly Messinger, assistant professor of English and student newspaper adviser, who helped plan the event after hearing about a similar project at another university. "We talk in higher ed about the need for critical thinking. This is critical thinking in action, and we're having a little fun with it."
"It's working on the fly, learning to adapt and react quickly," said Ricky Bayness, an electronic media and film major whose team was documenting the apocalypse on film and conducting interviews.
The exercise didn't stop with communications and journalism students. Theater students and other student volunteers donned zombie makeup to make the crisis possible.
"I'm trying to get the real intellectual brains, trying to go after faculty members, advisers, that kind of thing," said zombie volunteer student Ben Heiland, not breaking character.
"Infected" amid the zombie outbreak, religion professors weighed in on the student radio station to give their thoughtful takes on the crisis.
Drew Gittins, a psychology and organizational communications double major, turned the event into his senior capstone project, developing the general plan, handling social media accounts and coordinating scheduling for the event.
"I didn't really want to do a paper. I wasn't going to do a communications audit; that stuff's been done before," he said. "I wanted something a lot more creative."
Coordinating communications and running the mock press conferences for the exercise, Dennis, a public relations and organizational communications major, received affirmation that she'd picked the right field.
"All of that thinking on your feet, being in an environment where a large group of people from an institution are relying on you for information as you're receiving it as well, you really have to take charge..." Dennis said. "That's something you really can't get in a classroom."