By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily
Before traveling to Gillette on Thursday to participate in a memorial for eight University of Wyoming athletes killed by a drunk driver 20 years ago, Gov. Mark Gordon mentioned he had a personal connection to one of the students.
At the end of a press conference before departing, Gordon said his son competed against a brother of one of the athletes who perished in the accident on U.S. Highway 287 between Laramie and Fort Collins, Colorado.
“My son wrestled against one of the Shatto brothers,” he said, referring to Shane Shatto, a Douglas native who was 19 when he was killed. “Obviously, my heart has been heavy today with that loss.”
Gordon said the fact that 20 years later the accident still resonates so freshly in the minds of Wyoming citizens is “confirmation of Wyoming being a town with very long streets.”
“We should never forget how important it is that we drive sober,” Gordon said. “This was a remarkable group of young people. So we are joining with the rest of Wyoming today in remembering that awful day.”
The eight cross-country runners were killed in the early morning hours of Sept. 16, 2001. The car the group was riding in from Fort Collins back to Laramie was struck head-on by a pickup truck driven by Clinton Haskins, also a UW student, about 17 miles south of Laramie on the highway.
Killed in the accident were Nick Schabron and Joshua Jones of Laramie, Kyle Johnson of Riverton, Morgan McLeland of Gillette, Shane Shatto of Douglas, Kevin Salverson of Cheyenne, Cody Brown of Hudson, Colorado, and Canadian Justin Lambert-Belanger of Timmons, Ontario.
Gordon was to speak Thursday at the “Memory of the 8” event in Gillette — an annual eight-mile run followed by a dinner to remember the fallen students.