LARAMIE — For the families and friends of these eight running men, 10 years feels like both yesterday and forever ago.
But they came together Saturday as they always do at this time of year — more than 225 people, the largest turnout in years, gathered at Undine Park in town, one of the most beautiful days for the “Always a Cowboy” run in recent memory.
“This is the 10th anniversary of the loss of our boys,” the race starter called over a megaphone before a moment of silence. “And when I say our boys, I believe the Laramie community has adopted these young men. We hold them in a special place in our hearts.”
Just north of mile marker 417 on U.S. 287, 17 miles south of Laramie at Tie Siding, a small outpost a few miles north of the Colorado border with a general store that doubles as a post office, the two-lane road divides into a four-lane highway before snaking upward and vanishing over a hill.
There is no sign that 10 years ago today this was the scene of one of Wyoming’s most horrific crashes, one that claimed the lives of eight promising University of Wyoming cross country runners — Cody Brown, 21, of Hudson; Kyle Johnson, 20, of Riverton, Wyo.; Joshua Jones, 22, of Salem, Ore.; Justin Lambert-Belanger, 20, of Timmins, Ontario; Morgan McLeland, 21, of Gillette, Wyo.; Kevin Salverson, 19, of Cheyenne; Nicholas Schabron, 20, of Laramie; and Shane Shatto, 19, of Douglas, Wyo.
Around 1:30 a.m. on Sept. 16, 2001, the man responsible, Clinton Haskins, of Maybell, then a Wyoming student on the school’s rodeo team, was barreling down what was then a two-lane highway driving drunk in his pickup truck headed south to Fort Collins. He crossed the dividing line at the curve and slammed into the 1990 Jeep Wagoneer filled with the eight young men, who were returning to Laramie from a night of team bonding in Fort Collins. All but one — the driver, Schabron, who had no drugs or alcohol in his system — was ejected from the car. They died instantly.
Read the rest of my story on the 10-year anniversary of eight Wyoming cross country runners killed by a drunken driver.