Aspenite hurt, CU teammate dies in accident |

Aspenite hurt, CU teammate dies in accident

Sarah S. Chung

Aspenite and CU cross country skier Casey Ward was hurt in a snowmobile accident Monday at Yellowstone National Park that claimed the life of a teammate.

Ward, 22, was snowmobiling with University of Colorado teammate Lucie Hanusova when the machine crashed into a tree inside the park. Hanusova was pronounced dead from massive head injuries at the scene. The accident occurred in West Yellowstone, in Montana, near the Idaho border.

Ward, a junior at CU, was flown to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls and was listed in serious condition Monday evening. According to a hospital spokesman, Ward is being treated for a fractured jaw and a broken leg.

Although Ward was being held in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit, his injuries are not believed to be life-threatening, the spokesman said. The hospital’s shift supervisor said Ward’s injuries were not as severe as those indicated in early news reports following the accident.

At press time Monday night, Ward was resting in a drug-induced coma.

“He is still being evaluated, but as of our most recent tests, they don’t show any head injuries,” said the shift supervisor. “And the drug-induced coma is routine whenever a patient is airlifted in order to avoid unnecessary movement in the helicopter.”

It is believed that Hanusova was driving the snowmobile and that Ward was thrown from the vehicle when she lost control and hit a tree at Yellowstone. The two had rented the snowmobile after training for upcoming races at the Utah Invitational in Park City this weekend.

The CU nordic ski team was scheduled to compete in the Jan. 16-17 event, but will return to Boulder today and will not appear in any tournaments until February, according to CU media relations.

Hanusova hailed from Prachatice, in the Czech Republic, and was a member of the Czech National Team from 1994 to 1998, according to a CU press release. She was a freshman at CU and had finished second in the 15K freestyle and fifth in the 5K classical at the Montana State Invitational last weekend.

Hanusova is the second CU student-athlete to die this academic year. Aspenite Chris Severy, a CU cross country runner and track star, and a close friend of Ward’s, died in a bicycle accident in Boulder last October. Ward and Severy were friends in high school and at college, according to the CU press release.

At CU, Ward has been a prominent member of the ski team since his freshman year. At the Montana Invitational last weekend, he placed seventh in the men’s 15K freestyle event and 25th in the 10K classic.

Ward was also a standout nordic skier at Aspen High School and a several-time Junior Olympian. He was a member of the champion 3x5K relay team at the 1994 Junior Olympics in Oregon.

Between his high school and college careers, Ward took some time off to train as a nordic skier in Scandinavia.

He is the son of Jim and Faye Ward of Woody Creek. He graduated from AHS in 1994.

Tom Farrell, Aspen School District superintendent, remembers Ward as a fighter.

“If anybody can fight through something like this, it would be Casey,” said Farrell yesterday. “He’s such a positive and mentally tough kid, I know he’s going to be fine.”

Anyone wishing to send cards to Ward or to his family may mail them to: Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center; attn.: Intensive Care Unit for Casey Ward, patient; 3100 Channing Way; Idaho Falls, Idaho 83404. The family has asked well-wishers to refrain from calling or sending flowers, plants or other gifts at this time.

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