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In nine days, five USU Eastern students were involved in three car accidents.
The first accident involved three members of the women’s basketball team in a six-car pileup on I-15 near Orem, Utah. Freshman Shelby Cornforth was in the back seat of a car driven by Lejla Hadzialijagic and passenger Carol Ficher.
Cornforth, who was not wearing a seatbelt, had her head and shoulders go through the back window of the car. She stopped breathing after the accident. She was stabilized by paramedics and later diagnosed with a concussion and back/pelvic injuries at a hospital. She has been released by her doctor to play with her team.
Ficher walked away unharmed while Hadzialijagic is on medical leave from the team after having surgery for a broken clavicle bone. Her doctor said she would need three to four weeks of down time before she could practice and play with her team.
On Nov. 2, Taylor Rae Johnson left USU Eastern’s residential life and was traveling to Moab. Her car left the pavement and rolled multiple times on SR-191 around midnight. According to the UHP, her car slid off the roadway eight miles south from Interstate 70 and came to rest on the passenger side. She was not wearing a seat belt and pronounced dead at the scene.
Johnson was a freshman at Eastern and was scheduled to participate in the Miss USU Pageant later that week. She graduated from Green River High School in May 2014. Her funeral services were Nov. 8.
A day earlier, a 2014 USU Eastern graduate who is attending Utah Valley University, was driving east on US-6. Hailey Evans was passing a diesel and the back of her car clipped the front of the diesel, sending it into oncoming traffic. A Jeep hit the back of her car and she was ejected from her vehicle. She was life flighted to Utah Valley Hospital where she remains in the ICU in critical condition. She was not wearing her seat belt.
According to a family spokesman, she has had her breathing tube taken out and is breathing on her own. She has opened her eyes, but not communicated. “It’s a roller coaster ride with good days and bad days.” She will be in the hospital three to seven months with much of that time in rehab and therapy.
A fundraiser to help with her medical bills is set for Jan. 15. It will include dinner and a silent auction. More details will be available soon. A website has been set up to donate to help with her medical bills at gofundme.com/h55ff0.