A recruiting trip to Portland by the North Idaho College basketball coaching staff nearly turned deadly Thursday morning when two of them were struck by a car.
Head coach Corey Symons was driving a Dodge Durango on Interstate 90 west of Spokane near the Tyler/Cheney exit around 5 a.m. when he hit a deer. He and his four passengers got out of the car and were standing on the shoulder as a tow truck pulled up, according to Washington State Patrol Trooper Jeff Sevigney.
A westbound Jeep Cherokee swerved right to avoid the tow truck and hit two of the pedestrians, identified as assistant coaches Christopher Kemp and George Swanson. Kemp was taken to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center by helicopter, and Swanson was taken by ambulance.
North Idaho College spokesman Tom Greene said both men are in serious but stable condition.
NIC Athletic Director Al Williams said he spent the afternoon at the hospital with the coaches. “It could have been worse, but it wasn’t,” he said.
Another assistant coach, Ameer Shamsuddin, was initially thought to be uninjured but was later treated at the hospital as well, Williams said.
“His foot got run over, and his leg got hit,” he said. “I don’t even think he realized he was hurt until everything subsided.”
Radio host Richard Haugen, who was traveling with the coaches, was uninjured. The driver of the Cherokee, Matthew H. Seay, of Deer Park, was not hurt.
Seay has been charged with negligent driving.
NIC President Rick MacLennan released a statement Thursday afternoon: “The Cardinal community of students, employees and athletes is sending thoughts to the assistant coaches who were injured in this accident, and their families, as they begin the difficult road to recovery,” the statement said. “We will do anything we can to support them.”
Williams said the basketball players will be offered counseling.
“Obviously, it’s a very close team,” he said. “It’s like a family.”
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