UPDATE: WSP Identifies Two Killed In Crash Near Colfax - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

UPDATE: WSP Identifies Two Killed In Crash Near Colfax

Posted: Updated:
WHITMAN COUNTY, Wash. -

CHENEY, Wash. - Members of the Alpha Pi Sigma sorority at Eastern Washington University and across the country are trying to help each other through this heartbreaking tragedy after Friday morning’s car accident killed two Eastern students and left one in critical condition.

The sorority lost not only a member, but also the founder of the chapter at Eastern and its president, when 21-year-old Nancy Zepeda passed away at the scene of the crash Friday. KHQ spoke to one of the sorority's national directors who knew Nancy and says she will be missed greatly.

“She was really smart, she was really loving, she was really strong, she really was supportive of all the girls in her chapter,” said Teresa Watson, the National Board Director of Parliament for Alpha Pi Sigma sorority. “She lead with a lot of passion and I think that shows through her chapter and how all the other girls were able to stand up because they saw the influence she had on them.”

All four women involved in the crash were students at Eastern and had ties to the Alpha Pi Sigma sorority even though one was not officially a member.

After losing Nancy, the chapter president, the sorority released a statement saying, "Her life was cut short and it is a tragedy to us all. Her life simply ended too soon and learning to live without her is something many of us will struggle with. She is too loved to ever be forgotten."

Ashley Gonzalez, also 21-years-old, passed away at the crash site Friday as well. KHQ learned she was good friends with many of the sorority members, but never joined.

21-year-old Erica Polito was taken to Sacred Heart with life threatening injuries. Polito is currently in critical, but stable condition, and 22-year-old Carmen Gomez was taken to Whitman Hospital, but has since been released.

Washington State Patrol says Erica was driving the car that lost control and hit the semi around 4:45 in the morning Friday. It is a tragedy that is impacting the whole community at Eastern and one that has left a sorority leaning on each other for help.

“They are doing ok,” Watson said. “They are supporting each other and just trying to get through it together.”

Eastern Washington University said a memorial for the women will be planned in the next few days.

The sorority has also started an online fund for the families of the four women involved in the crash here: https://www.wepay.com/donations/nancy-zepeda saying, “We humbly request your support as we assist her family through this difficult time. Any donation will be greatly appreciated to support Nancy’s family as they cope with the unexpected financial burden presented by this unfathomable loss. Donations will directly support her family.”


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All four women involved in the car crash early Friday morning were students at Eastern Washington University, all 21 and 22-years-old.

According to the university, three of the girls came to the college together as part of the College Assistance Migrant Program referred to as CAMP. It is a federally funded program that helps students from migrant and seasonal farm worker backgrounds during their first year in college. Along with the CAMP program, all four of the girls were heavily involved in the Chicano Education Program and a sorority on campus.

The names of the women were released Friday afternoon: 21-year-old Ashley Gonzalez and 21-year-old Nancy Zepeda both passed away at the scene of the crash. 22-year-old Carmen Gomez was injured and taken to Whitman Hospital, but has since been released. 21-year-old Erica Polito was flown to Sacred Heart after the crash with life threatening injuries and is in critical condition at the hospital.

According to Washington State Patrol, Erica Polito was the driver of the Jetta that caused the crash around 4:45 a.m. Friday. WSP says the roads were slick and that the car lost control and spun around, causing the back of the car to hit an oncoming semi-truck. The driver of that semi was not injured.

Friday afternoon, Rodolfo Arévalo, the president at Eastern, sent an email to students and faculty saying, “All four involved in the crash were female students who are participating in the Chicano Education Program and other student programs on campus. They have provided leadership to a number of university organizations, so their loss will be felt campus wide. This is a very difficult day for the whole EWU community. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the families and friends of the victims.”

Eastern says it has counselors and support available for students who need it. They also said a memorial service will be planned for the girls in the next few days.

Here is the entire letter Eastern Washington University released Friday afternoon: 

Dear Campus Community:

It is with tremendous sadness that I report the passing of two Eastern Washington University students after a traffic accident early this morning on US Highway 195 near Colfax.

According to the Washington State Patrol, two other students were also in the vehicle, and one is in critical condition at a Spokane hospital while the other was taken to a hospital in Pullman and has been released.

All four involved in the crash were female students who are participating in the Chicano Education Program and other student programs on campus. They have provided leadership to a number of university organizations, so their loss will be felt campus wide.

This is a very difficult day for the whole EWU community. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the families and friends of the victims.

It is also important at this time to remind you that anyone who may need special services in light of this tragedy may utilize the university’s counseling support assistance, offered though our office of Counseling and Psychological Services.

Information about a campus memorial for the students will be forthcoming in the coming days.

Sincerely,

Rodolfo Arévalo, PhD

President.


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COLFAX, Wash. - Two people were killed after an early morning crash involving a semi truck and a car near Colfax.

Around 4:45am a small sedan carrying 4 young passengers crossed over the center lane of Highway 195 near Milepost 36, a few miles south of Colfax, and collided into a semi-truck.

Washington State Patrol Trooper Courtney Shawley said police believe this was a reverse head-on collision in that the back of the car crashed into the truck.

Two of the passengers in the car died at the scene. Another was transported to Spokane via MedStar, and another is being treated locally.

The driver of the truck is being treated for minor injuries and was the only witness to the crash.

Right now, police are still investigating the scene and say it is too soon to tell what caused the car to lose control.

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UPDATE:
The Washington State Patrol say that 2 people have killed in a crash on Hwy. 195 near Colfax.
WSP reports that a car carrying 4 passengers crossed over the center line of the highway in the southbound lanes near milepost 36, a few miles south of Colfax and hit a semi-truck. The crash happened just before 5:30 Friday morning.

One passenger has been transported to a Spokane hospital via MedStar, another passenger is being treated locally. The driver of the semi-truck was not injured.
WSP expects to be on the scene processing/investigating for at least another 2 hours. There was no witnesses to this crash except for the truck driver.

The two killed have not been identified.

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