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Single-vehicle crash kills two UI freshmen

Sun., Nov. 13, 2011, midnight

Early-morning rollover injures four other students

Two University of Idaho students died early Saturday after a one-vehicle accident near Troy, Idaho, police said.

According to Idaho State Police, freshmen Wyatt T. Smith, 17, of St. Anthony, Idaho, and Benson J. Sternberg, 18, of New Plymouth, Idaho, reportedly died as a result of the crash at 3:45 a.m. Saturday on Randall Flat Road near Troy.

The one-vehicle accident also involved University of Idaho students Clinton H. Johnson, 19, of Clarkston; Zachary U. Blank, 19, of Idaho Falls; Stephani M. Brede, 18, of St. Maries; and Tiffany I. Arreola, 19, of New Plymouth, the Idaho State Police reported. They were transported to Gritman Medical Center in Moscow, Idaho, where they were treated and released.

Smith reportedly was driving a 1997 GMC pickup south on Randall Flat Road when he lost control of the vehicle and drove left of center. He then reportedly hit the northbound embankment and the pickup rolled once.

None of the vehicle’s occupants was wearing a seat belt, according to police, and alcohol reportedly was a factor in the accident. The investigation is ongoing.

University spokeswoman Tania Thompson said the UI community is mourning the loss of Smith and Sternberg. Smith was a biological and agricultural engineering major and Sternberg had yet to declare a major.

“Our hearts and sympathies go out to their families and friends at this sad time,” Thompson said. “The sense of loss is deepened because of the young ages of Wyatt and Benson; gone so young, we will never mark their joys and triumphs or see their potential realized.”

Thompson said the university community also extends healing thoughts for the four other students who sustained non-life-threatening injuries in the crash.

The university’s response team, including grief counselors, has been working since early Saturday morning with those closest to Smith and Sternberg and with all of the students involved in and touched by this incident, Thompson said.

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