LARAMIE -- A single-vehicle crash Thursday afternoon in northern Colorado has claimed the lives of three University of Wyoming swimmers.

Dave Denniston, the school's swim coach, told his Cowgirls were "devastated" after learning the news Charlie Clark, 19, a sophomore on the men’s team and a psychology major from Las Vegas, Nev.; Carson Muir, 18, a freshman on the women’s team and an animal and veterinary sciences major from Birmingham, Ala.; and Luke Slabber, 21, a junior on the men’s team studying construction management from Cape Town, South Africa, had died.

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Two additional passengers, both members of the men's swimming and diving team, suffered minor injuries, per a school press release. Their injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

The Colorado State Patrol responded to a crash north of Livermore, Colo. just before 2:45 p.m. near the intersection of Highway 287 and Red Mountain Road in Larimer County. Authorities are still investigating what might have caused the accident.

Troopers said the five student-athletes were traveling southbound in a Toyota RAV4, per a report.

"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," UW President Ed Seidel said in a school press release. "Words are insufficient to express our sadness."

"My thoughts and prayers are with our swimming and diving student-athletes, coaches, families and friends," UW Director of Athletics Tom Burman said Thursday night in a release. "It is difficult to lose members of our University of Wyoming family, and we mourn the loss of these student-athletes. We have counseling services available to our student-athletes and coaches in our time of need."

"Jennie and I join the entire university community and all of Wyoming in mourning this tragic loss, and we ask you to keep their families, friends and loved ones close to your hearts during this difficult time," Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon tweeted Thursday night.

Denniston and the women's swim team is currently in Houston, Texas, competing in the Mountain West Championships.

Other UW students in need of support are encouraged to contact the University Counseling Center at (307) 766-2187. The Counseling Center is open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., and is prepared to support students. Students can also call an after-hours crisis counselor at (307) 766-8989.

The Dean of Students Office, (307) 766-3296, is available for any well-being support or academic assistance students may need.

UW employees may seek assistance through the Employee Assistance Program -- specifically, MINES & Associates, at 1-800-873-7138.

University of Wyoming Athletics is making counseling resources available for its student-athletes and staff through:
• Interim Director of Student-Athlete Well-Being, Rachel Amity
• Assistant Director of Student-Athlete Well-Being, Tedder Easton

The university's athletic department is no stranger to tragedy on this 65-mile stretch of scenic two-lane highway that connects Fort Collins and Laramie.

Back in September of 2001, a two-vehicle collision near Tie Siding, Wyo., claimed the lives of eight UW cross country, track athletes. Their Jeep Wagoneer was struck by a Chevrolet one-ton pickup truck around 1:30 a.m., according to the Wyoming Highway Patrol. Clint Haskins, 21, a member of the Wyoming Rodeo Club, pled guilty to drunk driving and was sentenced to 14-to-20 years in prison for aggravated vehicular homicide.

Those who lost their lives that day were: Justin M. Lambert-Belanger, 20; Cody B. Brown, 21; Kyle N. Johnson, 20; Joshua D. Jones, 22; Morgan J. McLeland, 21; Kevin L. Salverson, 19; Nicholas J. Schabron, 20 and Shane E. Shatto, 19.

"The loss of eight students and the critical injury of a ninth is a terrible blow to the University of Wyoming community," UW President Philip L. Dubois said in 2001. "Today's tragedy has struck close to home. These were people we knew, whose families we know, 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."

Ruben Narcisse, a freshman on the 2010 Cowboy football team, also lost his life on HWY 287 when a truck driven by a teammate drifted off the road Sept. 6 before striking a rock embankment and a tree before rolling near the Wyoming border in the early morning hours.

Narcisse, a linebacker from Miami, Fla., was just 19 years old.

Fellow football players Trey Fox, Christian Morgan and JJ Quinlan were all injured in the crash.

Harvey Patton, an assistant football coach at Wyoming, suffered a traumatic brain injury and paralysis in 2008 when his car was struck by a semi-truck on that two-lane highway.

On Dec. 12, 1993, then UW volleyball coach Mike English was involved in an automobile accident on HWY 287. He suffered a traumatic brain injury, according to a school press release, that left him 100-percent disabled. Seven years later, he died at the age of just 48.

Mike Phillips, a Cowboy golfer, also died there in 1998. So did Greg Wilson, a former Wyoming football player who was rushing back to Laramie for a spring football practice in 1984.

Nichole Rider, a Douglas native and UW women's basketball player, was left paralyzed a year later after sustaining a fracture of her cervical spine in a crash south of Laramie. 

"It took emergency crews over two hours to extricate me from the crumpled vehicle, then I was flown to a hospital in Ft. Collins, Colorado," Rider writes in her blog "The Spirit Way." "My injuries were severe and the initial prognosis was bleak. Hospital staff immediately put me on a respirator ... I would have died at the scene of the accident had I not been so physically fit. Because of the trauma to my spine, my diaphragm quit working which should have caused me to stop taking breaths. But my thoracic (torso) muscles were so strong that they somehow took over and kept me breathing. I also couldn’t feel my legs."

Debra Shaw, wife of former assistant football coach, Gordon Shaw, was also involved in an accident on that stretch in 1992 when her minivan was struck and landed in a ditch. She was hospitalized for five weeks. Aubrey Shaw, one of her three young daughters who was with her at the time of the crash, still had only limited use of her right hand nearly a decade later, according to a story in Sports Illustrated.

(This story will be updated as more information becomes available.)

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