SDSU Rower Denies Beer Played Role in Accident

Times Staff Writer

A member of the San Diego State University crew, injured Sunday night when a team van crashed on Interstate 5 in Central California, said Wednesday that a tire blow-out was solely responsible for the accident and that alcohol was not a factor.

Dan Wright, 19, said by telephone from his bed at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto that he remembers the accident up to the point at which the van went off the roadway and began rolling. Three SDSU students were killed and 10 other San Diego athletes were injured in the crash, which is being investigated by the California Highway Patrol.

Although CHP officers reported finding beer cans at the accident scene, Wright said “less than half” of those in the van were drinking and that driver Joseph Farrage, 19, was sober. Farrage voluntarily took a blood-alcohol test, but the results of both that test and the CHP’s investigation may not be made public for a month, CHP spokesman Doyne Cates said.


Farrage was listed in satisfactory condition Wednesday after skin-graft surgery on his legs and feet, which received third-degree burns in the crash, said a spokesman for Kaiser Permanente Hospital in West Los Angeles.

San Diego State University crew members James Marshall O’Hara, 20; Derek Guelker, 18, and Mark Skinner, 19, were killed in the crash. Five students are still hospitalized at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto. Mark Starkey, 23, is in serious condition. The rest are in good condition and are expected to be released by the end of the week.