3 University of Wyoming swimmers killed, 2 others injured in Colorado car crash

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Lights on a police vehicle.

Three members of the University of Wyoming swimming and diving team were killed and two others were injured when their sport utility vehicle veered off-road and rolled over along a rural highway known for deadly wrecks, including one that killed eight other Wyoming athletes.

The latest crash happened Thursday afternoon on U.S. 287 about 10 miles (16 kilometers) south of the Wyoming-Colorado line between Laramie and Fort Collins, Colo.

The two injured team members were expected to survive, according to a University of Wyoming statement.

The crash happened when the Toyota RAV4 sport utility vehicle with five people inside swerved and went off the pavement, and the vehicle rolled over multiple times, the statement said.

Two people were ejected. 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 team and an animal and veterinary sciences major from Birmingham, Alabama.

The two injured men, 20 and 21, were taken to hospitals, according to a Colorado State Patrol statement.

The accident was being investigated and the cause wasn't immediately known. The SUV was headed south and apparently not on an official team trip, the patrol statement said.

“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 the statement.

The weather was fair and conditions clear at the time on the often busy, two- and three-lane highway that winds through the scenic Rocky Mountain foothills. Typical hazards include blind curves, wildlife, passing vehicles and traffic entering and exiting at intersections.

University of Wyoming students often take the road for shopping, socializing and entertainment in Fort Collins and Denver.

In 2001, a head-on crash with a drunken driver on the same highway killed eight members of the University of Wyoming cross-country team. Clint Haskins, also a University of Wyoming student, swerved into the lane in front of the northbound sport utility vehicle.

Haskins was the only survivor of that crash 15 miles (24 kilometers) south of Laramie. He pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide and was paroled after 9 1/2 years in prison.

The crash days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks shocked the state and helped lead to safety improvements on the highway in Wyoming.

In 2021, three University of Wyoming students were killed when their car slid on icy pavement and was struck by an oncoming vehicle near the scene of Thursday's wreck.

Portions of the road in Colorado have above-average crash rates — making the highway a good candidate for more safety improvements, according to a summary of a 2023 Colorado Department of Transportation report.

The same 30-mile (48-kilometer) section from north of Fort Collins to the Wyoming line where the crash occurred has had 570 crashes, including 15 fatal wrecks, in the past five years, according to the summary.