Five Students Dead After Wrong-Way Driver Causes Chain Reaction Crash On Interstate 80 Near Rawlins

A deadly weekend on Wyoming highways was capped Sunday evening when five students from Arkansas were killed when a Dodge Ram 3500 driving the wrong way on Interstate 80 caused a chain-reaction crash.

Greg Johnson

January 24, 20233 min read

Highway patrol criminals handbook
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

UPDATE : Father Of Two Daughters Killed On I-80: ‘I Forgive’ Driver Who Caused Fiery Crash

UPDATE: Charges Pending For Driver Who Triggered Chain-Reaction Crash That Killed 5 Students On I-80

A group of five young people from Arkansas were killed Sunday evening when a large Dodge truck driving the wrong way on Interstate 80 caused a chain-reaction crash involving multiple vehicles.

Officials with the Pulaski County Special School District in Little Rock, Arkansas, confirmed that the crash killed two of the district’s current and three former high school students.

The students were traveling back to Arkansas after visiting Jackson Hole Bible College in Jackson Hole, KATV reports. They’ve been identified as Salomon Correa, Magdalene Franco, Andrea Prime, Suzy Prime and Ava Luplow.

Faith Bible Fellowship Church in Little Rock posted on its Facebook page that the church community “is mourning the loss of five of our young adults.”

The post goes on to say the five were on their way home after spending a week in Jackson Hole visiting the Bible college there.

Vehicle hit ‘head-on’

The Wyoming Highway Patrol says it received a report at 6:52 p.m. that a Dodge Ram 3500 was driving east in the westbound lane of I-80 east of Rawlins. Six minutes later, troopers were notified the wrong-way driver had collided with multiple other vehicles. 

The Dodge “collided with a commercial truck and a passenger car,” the WHP says in a press release. “As the Dodge truck collided with the passenger car, a driver of a second commercial truck attempted to avoid the approaching truck by driving into the median.”

That second commercial truck went through the median and into the eastbound travel lanes, where it hit a Ford F-150 “head-on,” the report says.

Those vehicles “immediately became engulfed in flames,” and all five people in the Ford F-150 were killed, the Highway Patrol reports.

Some people in the other vehicles involved in the crash were taken to area hospitals with what the Highway Patrol says were “critical injuries.”

The driver of the Dodge that was driving the wrong way was arrested on suspicion of driving impaired and could face more charges as the investigation into the crash unfolds, the WHP reports.

A Deadly Weekend

The five people killed in the Sunday evening crash brings the death toll on Wyoming highways for the weekend to eight.

In the early morning hours Sunday, a pair of commercial truckers died after being trapped in packed snow in the cab and sleeper compartment of their truck.

The truck lost its windshield, then the cab was packed with snow as it slid forward and down an embankment, according to the Highway Patrol.

The Volvo semitrailer lost control traveling eastbound on I-80 east of Evanston when the crash happened at about 2:15 a.m. The crash was discovered about three hours later by a Wyoming Department of Transportation maintenance crew.

The first fatality of the weekend happened a little after 5 p.m. Saturday when a 1999 Dodge Ram pulling a flatbed trailer lost control on an icy and snow-covered Interstate 25 near milepost 67.

One passenger in the truck was killed, while the 15-year-old driver and another passenger were transported to hospitals for treatment of undisclosed injures, according to the WHP.

With the eight fatalities over the weekend, the death toll on Wyoming highways so far in 2023 is as 12. That compares to one by the time in 2022, eight in 2021 and three in 2020.

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Greg Johnson

Managing Editor

Veteran Wyoming journalist Greg Johnson is managing editor for Cowboy State Daily.