Eight cross-country runners killed in auto accident

LARAMIE, Wyo. — Eight University of Wyoming cross-country runners were killed early yesterday 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 member of 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.

The eight may have been returning from the Peter Pytte Invitational in Denver. Wyoming 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 the 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."

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.