Cal Baptist coach killed in crash

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (BP)--The cheerleading coach of California Baptist University was killed and a dozen cross country team members were injured Aug. 9 in a three-vehicle multiple-fatality accident on California Highway 395 near Bishop, Calif.

Wendy Rice was driving one of three vans carrying CBU student athletes to a high altitude training camp in Mammoth, Calif. Rice died when the van was struck by an oncoming SUV that apparently ran out of control, overturned and burst into flames on impact.

California Highway Patrol officer Dennis Cleland said two people in the SUV also were killed, but no one in the other two CBU vans was injured.

Cleland said the collision occurred about five miles south of Bishop at 8:20 p.m. on a divided four-lane stretch of highway. He said 12 CBU student athletes in the van Rice was driving were injured and transported to area hospitals. At least one student was among four victims who were in critical condition as of Aug. 10.

University officials contacted the families of all of the cross country team members to inform them about the accident.

"We are deeply saddened by this tragic event," CBU President Ronald L. Ellis said. "We have lost a beloved member of our CBU family.

"On behalf of the university community, I want to express our deepest sympathy to Wendy's husband [Jason] and their two young children," Ellis said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with those who lost loved ones in this terrible accident and with those who were injured. We pray for their speedy and complete recovery."

Rice was entering her fourth year as CBU's cheerleading coach. She had been cheerleading director, head coach and choreographer at Corona del Mar (Calif.) High School the previous six years, where she led her squads to the U.S. Spiritleaders National Championship, COA West Coast Open Championship, the UCA West Coast Championship, a second-place finish at the USA Nationals as well as many regional and state level titles.

Rice had begun teaching at the high school level in 1992.

Officials said a memorial service for Rice for the CBU community will be scheduled on the Riverside campus.

Compiled by staff at California Baptist University and Baptist Press.

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