LARAMIE -- Football became an afterthought Monday as the Wyoming Cowboys mourned the loss of one of their own.
Freshman linebacker Ruben Narcisse, 19, of Miami died and three other UW players were injured in a one-vehicle automobile accident early Monday morning.
“We’re reaching out to our entire team and coaching staff,” UW coach Dave Christensen said in a university release. “It's a terrible tragedy, and a terrible loss. Our focus now is helping our team and staff deal with this tragedy and making sure the families of the young men involved know that we are here to support them in any way we can.”
True freshman wide receiver C.J. Morgan, 18, of Aurora, Colo., remains hospitalized in fair condition in Loveland, Colo. Walk-ons Trey Fox, 19, of Glenwood Springs, Colo., and J.J. Quinlan, 19, of Everett, Wash., were treated and released from Ivinson Memorial Hospital in Laramie as a result of injuries sustained in the accident.
Colorado State Patrol reports indicate the four were traveling north on U.S. Highway 287 when Fox, the driver of the Toyota Tundra, fell asleep, causing the vehicle to leave the road shortly before 5:30 a.m. The highway runs between Laramie and Fort Collins, Colo.
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State Patrol spokesman Sgt. John Hahn said there is no evidence that drugs or alcohol were factors in the crash.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Ruben’s family,” UW athletics director Tom Burman said. “Our thoughts are also with the students who were involved in the accident and their families as well.
“Sadly, this athletics department has experienced this kind of loss before, and we know how difficult it is for all involved.”
It was nine years ago this month that a wreck on Highway 287 claimed the lives of eight UW student-athletes.
The members of the cross country and track teams were involved in a collision with a drunk driver on Sept. 16, 2001.
The reports on Monday did not indicate why the players were on the road earlier in the day.
The football program, which usually hosts weekly teleconferences each Monday during the season, canceled Monday’s session as counseling support was offered to players, coaches and students.
“The loss of any student saddens us immeasurably,” UW President Tom Buchanan said. “My condolences go out to Ruben’s family and friends. The entire university grieves his loss.”
Nina McConigley, an instructor in the English department at UW who had Narcisse as a student, said in an email that the small class would not be the same without him.
She said he was intrigued with adjusting to Laramie winters.
“Ruben loved talking about the change from Miami to Wyoming,” McConigley said. “He was a great kid. The whole class will be really upset when we meet [Wednesday].”
Narcisse was listed as a fourth-string middle linebacker and did not play in UW’s season-opening victory against Southern Utah on Saturday.
Wyoming plays at Texas at 5 p.m. this Saturday.