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

Arthur Nelson, who drove a Dodge Ram 3500 truck the wrong way on Interstate 80 on Sunday evening, remains in the Carbon County jail awaiting formal charges from the county attorneys office. Hes accused of causing a multi-vehicle crash that killed five young people from Arkansas.

Greg Johnson

January 24, 20234 min read

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

The driver of a Dodge Ram 3500 truck who drove the wrong way on Interstate 80, triggering a multi-vehicle crash Sunday that killed five young people from Arkansas remains in the Carbon County, Wyoming, jail Tuesday morning awaiting his first court appearance.

Arthur Nelson, 57, of Limestone, Tennessee, is being held on suspicion of DUI with a controlled substance and reckless driving, while the Carbon County Attorney’s office puts together a slate of formal charges.

Because Nelson hasn’t yet had his first court appearance, the Carbon County Circuit Court said it couldn’t release any other information about him – including his age and where he’s from – or the arrest affidavit filed in his case.

A message with the Carbon County Attorney’s office wasn’t returned by the time this story was posted.

What We Do Know

Nelson is accused of driving east in the westbound lane of traffic on I-80 at about 6:50 p.m. Sunday, colliding with a commercial truck and another car.

“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,” the Wyoming Highway Patrol reports in a press release about the crash.

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.” An update on how many other people were hurt or their conditions wasn’t available.

Shock, Grief For Community

All five of the people killed in the F-150 were young people ranging in age from 18 to 23 returning to their hometown of Sherwood, Arkansas, after a weeklong visit to Jackson Hole Bible College in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Two were seniors at Sylvan Hills High School in Sherwood, a small community about 10 miles north of Little Rock, Arkansas. The other three were recent graduates of the same high school.

They are Suzy Prime and Ava Luplow, both high school seniors, and Salomon Correa, Magdalene “Maggie” Franco and Andrea Prime, all former Sylvan Hills High students who also attended the Bible college, said Elizabeth Dilts, a member and spokesperson designated by Faith Bible Fellowship church in Sherwood.

‘We’re Going To Miss Them So Much’

The 100- to 125-member congregation of the church are stunned and saddened by the tragic crash that claimed five young members, Dilts told Cowboy State Daily.

“We’re going to miss them so much and they were such awesome kids,” she said. “The families are grieving and are so upset, but we can know the Bible tells us that as soon as we’re separated from our bodies, Jesus takes us and there’s no fear.”

She said emotions are raw in their community and congregation and that it’s easy for people to be angry and want vengeance.

“We want justice, of course,” Dilts said about the overall feeling toward Nelson. “He should be held accountable, and he should be tried by every good law that the United States has.”

She also said she imagines Nelson is also living his own emotional hell right now.

“I can’t imagine the kind of grief there, but I’m thankful because if he’s alive, he’s living with that the rest of his life,” Dilts said.

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Greg Johnson

Managing Editor

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