In a Colorado Highway Crash 3 University of Wyoming Swimmers Died, 2 Were Injured

3 members of the University of Wyoming swimming and diving team died, and two more were injured after their sport utility vehicle veered and flipped over alongside a rural roadway, bringing the total number of students killed on the dangerous road in recent years to at least 15.

The most recent crash occurred Thursday afternoon on U.S. 287, roughly 10 miles (16 kilometers) south of the Wyoming-Colorado border between Laramie, Wyoming, and Fort Collins, Colorado.

The collision occurred when the Toyota RAV4 SUV, which was carrying five people, swerved and skidded off the road, rolling over many times.

Two individuals were ejected. According to the university, the crash killed Charlie Clark, 19, a sophomore psychology major from Las Vegas, Luke Slabber, 21, a junior studying construction management from Cape Town, South Africa, and Carson Muir, 18, a freshman on the women’s swimming and diving team and an animal and veterinary sciences major from Birmingham, Alabama.

In a Colorado Highway Crash 3 University of Wyoming Swimmers Died, 2 Were Injured

The two injured team members, including the driver, were released from the hospital on Friday, according to a Colorado State Patrol statement. The survivors were not identified.

According to the state patrol statement, the motorist may have been avoiding a car in front of him that had slowed, presumably for a turn.

The accident was still under investigation. According to the statement, possible causes such as excessive speeding, impairment, and distractions were not ruled out.

Two persons were ejected from the vehicle, but the statement did not specify who they were or if they wore seat belts. According to the patrol, the SUV was traveling south and was not part of an organized team trip.

“We are heartsick at the news of this terrible tragedy for our university, our state, our student-athlete community and, most importantly, the families and friends of these young people,” University of Wyoming President Ed Seidel said in a statement.

The crash occurred as the rest of the squad was competing at the Mountain West Swimming & Diving Championships in Houston. At the event, swimmers from Colorado State University in Fort Collins wore the Wyoming logo and “WYO” with a heart written on their skin to commemorate their opponents.

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The weather was pleasant, and the conditions were clear on the frequently congested two- and three-lane roadway that runs through the picturesque Rocky Mountain foothills.

Typical hazards include blind curves, wildlife, passing vehicles, and traffic entering and departing intersections. Students from the University of Wyoming frequently travel to Fort Collins and Denver to shop, socialize, and enjoy entertainment.

In 2001, a head-on collision with a drunk driver on the same highway killed eight members of the University of Wyoming cross-country team.

Clint Haskins, a University of Wyoming student, swerved into the lane in front of the athletes’ northbound SUV in the incident, which occurred days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Haskins, the sole survivor of the incident 15 miles (24 kilometers) south of Laramie, pled guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide. He was released on parole after serving 9 1/2 years in prison.

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The crash stunned the state and prompted Wyoming highway safety changes. In 2010, a pickup vehicle veered off the roadway in Colorado and overturned, killing a 19-year-old University of Wyoming football player and injuring three others.

In 2021, three University of Wyoming students were murdered when their automobile slipped on snowy roads and was hit by an oncoming vehicle near the area of Thursday’s accident.

According to a summary of a 2023 Colorado Department of Transportation assessment, portions of the route in Colorado have higher-than-average crash rates, making the roadway a suitable candidate for additional safety enhancements. The report has yet to be made public.

According to the summary, the 30-mile (48-kilometer) portion from north of Fort Collins to the Wyoming border where the incident occurred Thursday had seen 570 crashes, 15 of which were fatal, in the last five years.

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