WHITMAN COUNTY, Wash. -- Two Eastern Washington University students were killed when a semi collided with a car on Highway 195 early Friday morning.
Nancy Zepeda Zarate and Ashley Gonzalez, both 21, were killed in the wreck according to the Washington State Patrol. Both victims were not wearing seatbelts while riding in the 1999 Volkswagen Jetta according to authorities.
Medstar flew a third victim, 21, to Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane. Authorities rushed the fourth victim, 22, to Whitman Hospital. She has been released from the hospital according to EWU President Rodolfo Arévalo, PhD.
All four women in the Jetta were EWU students according to school officials. The victims were part of the Chicano Education Program at EWU.
“They’re like siblings to each other. They’re a very tight knit group they go through this first year together it’s very close knit community,’ said EWU spokesperson, David Meany.
They were also members of a newly founded sorority at the university.
“This is a very difficult day for the whole EWU community,” wrote Arévalo in a statement to students on Friday. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the families and friends of the victims.”
The crash occurred two miles south of Colfax around 4:50 a.m. Investigators believe the driver of the Jetta may have lost control heading northbound on the highway. The car then reportedly spun out in front of a semi traveling south.
There did not appear to be significant damage to the semi, troopers reported.
Traffic was alternating in the area on the single northbound lane while the southbound lane was blocked because of the crash. Crews were on scene for hours Friday. The roadway was cleared around 11:15 a.m.
Investigators were still trying to determine what caused the collision.
Anyone who knew the girls and needs counseling can visit the psychological services department on campus. Administrators are preparing a memorial for the two girls.