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Debate Team Member Dies in Crash

March 14, 2000

THE WOODLANDS, Texas (AP) _ A Rice University student was killed and five others were injured when two university vans carrying debate team members crashed along Interstate 45.

The vans collided with two other vehicles involved in an earlier accident about 27 miles north of Houston just before 11 p.m. Monday, according to the Harris County Sheriff’s Department.

The team members, who had won the national championship last year, were returning from a debate and public speaking competition in Omaha, Neb.

Authorities would not release the victims’ identities. University spokesman Terry Shepard said a freshman from Vernon Hills, Ill., was killed.

Shepard said 11 students and three coaches were in the two vans, which were southbound. A sheriff’s deputy said the vans collided with a private van and a pickup that had just crashed.

Two students were taken to Hermann Memorial Hospital in Houston; Shepard said one sustained a broken leg and lacerations, and the other had a back injury. Three others were taken to Northeast Medical Center in the Houston suburbs, Sheriff’s Deputy Robert Wormuth said.

Their conditions were not immediately known, and hospital officials did not return telephone calls today from The Associated Press.

Sheriff’s investigators remained at the accident scene early today, Wormuth said. An official cause was not yet available.

A memorial was planned at noon today at the university in Houston, Shepard said.

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