This archived article was written by: Abbie Bird
The Utah State University Eastern women’s basketball team traveled to Salt Lake on the evening of Oct. 20 for their first jamboree and games of the season. The team was allowed to go home, in personal cars Thursday evening, instead of driving on the buses Friday morning with the coaches. One of the groups driving unfortunately did not make it home safely.
Freshman Shelby Cornforth drove with two sophomores Lejla Hadzialijagic and Carol Ficher. The crash occurred in Orem, on Interstate 15. Hadzialijagic was driving and saw something black on the freeway in front of her, she thought it was an animal, but realized it was a plastic bag.
Ficher, who was in the passenger seat, said that Hadzialijagic over-corrected and hit the median, since they were driving in the carpool lane. Once they hit the median, they spun out of control, and another car coming the same direction hit them from behind and they spun out again. A total of six cars were involved in the crash.
Cornforth was sleeping in the back seat when the incident happened and got hit twice. She was found unconscious and not breathing when medical crews arrived. Cornforth said it was terrifying because she remembers waking up with her head and shoulders outside of the back window before blacking out again. She was taken to the hospital where her breathing was stabilized, and she found out that she had only suffered a concussion and a back/pelvic injury. Her injuries could have been far worse and she knows she was lucky.
Hadzialijagic was rushed to the hospital after the crash. She broke her clavicle and had to get surgery Tuesday to repair it. She hopes to return to the basketball court in about three to six weeks.
Ficher was lucky, and walked away with only a bruise on her hip from the seat belt.
It was a tough weekend for the women’s basketball team as all of this happened before their first tournament.
The rest of the team knows that their teammates were blessed and walked away from that crash, which could have been fatal. Head coach Dave Paur said that he was very impressed with the way the team handled the trauma throughout the weekend. He stated, “I think it has brought us together, and helped the team realize that life is fragile. It was amazing that by the time we left the court we were a team.” He then went on to say that it made the team stronger and more united because they were really there for each other when they needed it the most.