MU student killed in motorcycle crash

Monday, August 9, 2010 | 5:19 p.m. CDT; updated 3:56 p.m. CDT, Thursday, August 12, 2010

 COLUMBIA — An MU student was killed in a motorcycle accident at East Nifong Boulevard and State Farm Parkway on Monday morning.

Caitlin Valora, 20, was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident, according to a release from the Columbia Police Department.

Police officers responded to a report of a motorcycle accident shortly after 11 a.m., the release said. Valora was a passenger on the motorcycle. There were no other vehicles involved in the accident.

The motorcycle driver, identified as Aaron Hansberry, 21, was taken to University Hospital at about 11:30 a.m. to receive treatment for a broken right leg, the release said.

A University Hospital spokeswoman said Hansberry was in fair condition as of 6:45 p.m. Monday. MU's online directory lists Hansberry as a junior pre-communication student.

Valora was a sociology student, her friend Elizabeth Nonnemaker said. Valora would have been a junior this fall.

Nonnemaker, also a junior, said she met Valora her freshman year.

"We were random suitemates in South Hall, and we just became really good friends," Nonnemaker said.

Nonnemaker said she and Valora chose to room together again for their sophomore year.

"She always was smiling and a go-getter," Nonnemaker said. "If we were ever sad, we would go shopping or do something fun like that."

Steve Winters, a senior at MU, said he became good friends with Valora after meeting her about four years ago.

"I'll always remember laughing with her," Winters said. "We always made fun of each other jokingly."

Winters said he took care of Valora's plant, which she had named Edward, while she traveled to New York and other places like Kansas City and New Orleans.

Winters recalled speaking with Valora on the phone and updating her on Edward's growth from a 3-inch "weed" to a flowering 3-foot plant with "two daisies and counting."

Following this morning's crash, authorities said, it was Hansberry who called police.

The release said Hansberry and Valora were riding westbound on East Nifong Boulevard toward State Farm Parkway. The two roads meet in a T-intersection.

The motorcycle continued across State Farm Parkway, according to the release. The front tire hit the curb, and the motorcycle became airborne. It came to rest approximately 20 feet from the roadway.

Police believe Hansberry was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, the release said. Investigators did not find another helmet at the scene.

Authorities said Hansberry's driver's license lists his home address as Lee's Summit. The 2009-10 MU Directory lists Valora as a resident of Wildwood.

Nonnemaker confirmed that Hansberry and Valora were friends.

Police said a crash reconstructionist will complete a report on the accident. Valora's cause of death will be determined by the Boone County Medical Examiner's office, the release said.

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