Speed hasn’t been ruled out as a factor in a highway crash that killed three Minnesota college juniors who were members of a nationally ranked ultimate frisbee team, authorities said Saturday.
Five Carleton College students were packed into a 1997 Toyota 4Runner SUV that spun out of control Friday afternoon, sliding into oncoming traffic on the icy and undivided two-lane highway. A semi-truck smashed into the SUV.
Dead at the scene were James P. Adams, 20, of St. Paul; Paxton Harvieux, 21, of Stillwater, Minn.; and Michael D. Goodgame, 20, of Westport, Conn.
The driver, William S. Sparks, 20, a junior from Evanston, Ill., and Connor Eckert, 19, a freshman from Seattle suffered serious injuries and were in stable condition. The truck driver was not injured, Minnesota State Patrol reported.
State patrol spokesman Lt. Eric Roeske said Saturday that alcohol and drugs did not appear to be factor. The crash remains under investigation, and other factors, such as speeding, have not been ruled out, Roeske told the Los Angeles Times. All of the students were wearing seat belts.
The Dakota County crash capped a busy February for Minnesota troopers as the ongoing deep freeze led to hundreds of crashes, including a 50-car collision on Friday.
The Carleton ultimate Frisbee team and other mourners packed a campus chapel for a vigil Saturday, the team said.
“Many heartfelt and heart-wrenching stories. Not a dry eye. Mourning and grieving our teammates who were taken too soon,” the team said in a Facebook post.
CUT, as the team is known, won the national championship most recently in 2011 but has reached the semi-finals six years in a row. Ultiworld ranks the team at No. 18 in the nation.
The sport involves trying to advance a Frisbee past another team’s goal line by tossing the disc to teammates. When holding the Frisbee, players are limited to certain movements and a limited amount of time to act.
"On behalf of the entire ultimate community and the USA Ultimate board and staff, we want to express our profound sadness and deepest condolences to the families, Carleton College community, and all the friends and teammates of these young men," USA Ultimate Board of Directors President Mike Payne said in a statement Saturday.
The Carleton team had been scheduled to compete in a 16-team tournament at Stanford University this weekend.
Adams had been studying chemistry, Goodgame political science and Harvieux computer science. Carleton has about 2,000 students.
“The collective Carleton soul aches for the loss of these three young men,” Carleton President Steven G. Poskanzer said in a statement. “Right now, we need to focus all our love and compassion on supporting the families and friends of all these young men, along with everyone in our community who cares for them.”