Athletes perish in crash

Tragedy strikes eight Wyoming distance runners

Posted: Monday, September 17, 2001

LARAMIE, Wyo. -- Eight University of Wyoming cross country runners were killed early Sunday in a head-on accident with a pickup truck driven by a fellow student, according to the Wyoming Highway Patrol.

Sgt. Stephen Townsend said the athletes' sports utility vehicle struck a one-ton pickup truck that apparently swerved into the northbound lane of U.S. 287.

The crash happened at 1:30 a.m. about 17 miles south of Laramie. All seven passengers of the SUV were ejected and died at the scene as did the driver, who was not ejected. Some were also members of the school's track team.

The driver of the pickup truck, Clinton Haskins, 21, of Maybel, Colo., was in serious condition at Ivinson Memorial Hospital in Laramie. Haskins is a senior at the university and a steer wrestler on the rodeo team.

There were no passengers in the pickup.

''They weren't coming from a meet that they were participating in. They might have gone to Colorado to watch one,'' Townsend said.

Although a cross country meet was being hosted by the University of Denver on Saturday, the men's team was not scheduled to compete and the women's team withdrew because of the mourning surrounding the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.

''We believe they just got together. All the athletic meets were canceled over weekend. They may have been just out for the day,'' university spokesman Jim Kearns said.

Townsend said only Haskins was wearing a seat belt and that the crash was being investigated.

Those killed were: Nicholas J. Schabron, 20, of Laramie, (driver); Justin Lambert-Belanger, 20, of Timmins, Ontario; Kyle N. Johnson, 20, of Riverton; Kevin L. Salverson, 19, of Cheyenne; Shane E. Shatto, 19, of Douglas; Joshua D. Jones, 22, of Laramie; Morgan McLeland, 21, of Gillette; and Cody B. Brown, 21, of Hudson, Colo.

''The loss of eight students and the critical injury of a ninth is a terrible blow to the University of Wyoming community,'' university President Philip Dubois said. ''Today's tragedy has struck close to home. These were people we knew, whose families we knew, members of the University of Wyoming family, young men who showed great promise for the future.

''In deepest sorrow I offer my condolences to the families and friends of the victims of this horrible accident and pledge our support for them.''

All the university's coaches, athletics director Lee Moon and Dubois met early Sunday evening to discuss the tragedy. Moon and Dubois looked drained as they left the meeting.

''We just wanted to stress the importance to our coaches of supporting each other and supporting our student-athletes and being open to talk to,'' Moon said. ''This is a lot to put on young people.''

Wyoming's women's soccer game against Creighton, rescheduled from Sunday to Monday, was postponed again -- indefinitely. Moon was considering also postponing Wyoming's women's volleyball game against Colorado State.

A candlelight vigil for the victims was scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday on campus. A formal university memorial service will not be planned until memorials and funerals for the victims are scheduled, according to Dubois.

Lambert-Belanger, a sophomore, had posted Wyoming's top times in the cross country team's two meets so far this fall: He finished 13th at the Wyoming Open with a time of 22 minutes, 53 seconds, and 27th at the Colorado State Open in 24:08.5.

Shatto, a freshman, had the second-best times for the team in each event. Brown, a junior, had the second-best finish for Wyoming last October at the Mountain West Conference championships, placing 33rd overall.

Schabron, Johnson, and McLeland were sophomores. Salverson's and Jones' class standings were not immediately known.



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