Accident on I-70 leaves 3 injured

Friday, March 7, 2008 | 4:10 p.m. CST; updated 11:49 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

COLUMBIA — A vehicle overturned on Interstate 70 near U.S. 63 in Columbia on Thursday night, leaving the driver unharmed but all three passengers injured, according to a press release from the Columbia Police Department.

William Ofarrell, 20, of Huntsville, Ala., was driving westbound on 1-70 at 11:41 p.m. when he traveled off the left side of the road and then overcorrected his car, causing him to lose control of the vehicle, according to the release. The vehicle rotated and left the right side of the roadway, traveling down a steep bank and overturning.

The four people in the vehicle all attend a Tennessee college and were traveling through Columbia on their way to Utah to go hiking and camping, Columbia Police Capt. Zim Schwartze said, adding that police have not yet been able to confirm their story.

Schwartze said police believe the accident may have been caused by the driver falling asleep and that there was no indication of alcohol being a factor in the accident.

Police said passengers Alexander Taylor of Sewanee, Tenn., and Guy Cooper of Hixson, Tenn., both 20, were not wearing their seat belts and were thrown from the car. They were transported to University Hospital, where they were admitted for non-life-threatening injuries and stayed overnight for observation, according to the release.

Ofarrell and a third passenger, 20-year-old Christopher Vance of Houston, Texas, were both wearing their seat belts. Vance, accompanied by Ofarrell, was transported to University Hospital for evaluation via a police vehicle.

“We encourage everyone to wear their seat belts,” Schwartze said. “It does decrease potential injuries in cases like this.”

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