Sally Ann Shurmur: Bidding Farewell To The Three Wyoming Swim And Dive Athletes

Columnist Sally Ann Shurmur writes, "On Wednesday, the state and the University of Wyoming bid farewell to the three Wyoming swim and dive athletes who were killed in a car crash on the horrific Highway 287 that runs from Laramie to Fort Collins."

Sally Ann Shurmur

March 07, 20245 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

I certainly didn’t expect to be writing about funerals for the second time in a month, but here we are.

Did you lose your mind at the loss of Facebook on Tuesday morning? Folks literally thought it was a Super Tuesday conspiracy, an Elon Musk ploy or some foreign terrorist plot.

I didn’t even know until I tried to post my Wordle score, because when you solve in two, you want the whole world to know.

Two Lents ago, just after retiring, I decided to give up Facebook for Lent. Just Facebook, because giving up Twitter and its breaking sports news would be like giving up air.

Giving up Facebook didn’t make me more holy or closer to God. It made me grouchy and angry.

I had a dear friend battling cancer in Colorado then, and her husband used Facebook as a way to update everyone at once.

At night, I would ask Owen to look for new posts from him and read them to me, but Type A that I am, I thought he was missing some.

So as funny and in some ways tragic that it is that we have become attached to Big Blue, powered by Meta, the World Wide Web has more than given back in the last week.

In the span from Friday afternoon  to Wednesday night, I had the privilege of watching two memorial services live on YouTube.

First was in Sheridan for Sgt. Nevada Krinkee, 33, who was murdered serving a trespassing warrant.

He was an eight-year Army veteran who escorted little kids safely to and from school in Afghanistan.

He was also a husband of 2-1/2 years and a daddy to an infant baby girl.

Cop funerals are inherently awful, whether for one murdered in the line of duty or who lost a long and grueling battle with cancer.

A pastor from Sheridan Bible Church reminded the crowd of nearly 2,000, that though the outcome was awful, hope didn’t die.

“Death does not get the final word today…we don’t grieve as the world grieves, we grieve with hope.”

After seven marksmen fired three shots each from the balcony, it was time for the singular action that makes cop funerals different than any other.

A Sheridan Police Department dispatcher said, “All units stand by for last call. Sam 4…(silence). PD, 10-42, we have the watch from here.”

On Wednesday, the state and the University of Wyoming bid farewell to the three Wyoming swim and dive athletes who were killed in a car crash on the horrific Highway 287 that runs from Laramie to Fort Collins.

The first speaker was Gov. Mark Gordon. In all of the public appearances he has made throughout his time in office, I personally have not seen him as shaken up as he was when he took the podium on the floor of the Arena-Auditorium.

Just 24 hours prior, he and his wife, Jennie, had been on the same floor at the UW men’s basketball game, accepting a donation from UW for Jennie’s Hunger First Initiative.

On Wednesday, looking at a photo of the swimmers on the podium next to his notes, he said, “God, this really hurts today.”

He referred to Charlie Clark as “6-foot-6, a huge lad.”

He said Carson Muir’s favorite Bible passage was one from Matthew when Jesus casts the demons out. “You need to have faith,” was her favorite quote.

And Luke Slabber, from South Africa, was having the time of his life on the adventure of his life.

“They loved Wyoming and what the wildness was. Where they could see bison, always facing into the wind.”

Gordon also mentioned UW student Sabrina Geller, who died near Vedauwoo just days before the swim and dive athletes.

“All four of these were our hope, our future. It is our obligation now.”

Other speakers included UW president Ed Seidel and athletic director Tom Burman, who suggested, “slow down, be present and hug each other.”

UW swim coach Dave Denniston said the smiles of the three were a remarkable thing that will be remembered forever.

“Luke’s said, ‘watch this.’ Carson’s smile was the biggest I’ve ever seen. And Charlie’s told you he knew something that you didn’t.”

The service concluded with a “relay” of teammates and friends sharing memories and paying tribute to their teammates.

Thursday was 307, the day Wyoming claims as our own because whether you are in Pine Bluffs or Evanston, Beulah or Jackson, the area code is the same.

We are the same more than we are different.

We are all planted here, bearing the wind and loving the abundant blue sky and hundreds of days of sun.

When one celebrates, we all do.

When one grieves, we all do as well.

May God bless the families and the souls of Sgt. Nevada Krinkee, Charlie Clark, Carson Muir, Luke Slabber and Sabrina Geller.

Sally Ann Shurmur can be reached at:

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Sally Ann Shurmur