By The Associated Press
LARAMIE — A woman whose son was among eight college students killed in a head-on crash teamed up with the man who caused the crash to warn University of Wyoming students not to drink and drive.
Several hundred students attended Wednesday’s presentation at the university.
“I am in prison, and eight young men are dead,” Clint Haskins said. “I would recommend that you not separate yourselves too much from me, because that is exactly what I used to do.”
Haskins was a senior at the university when the crash happened Sept. 16, 2001, on U.S. Highway 287 south of Laramie. Haskins had been drinking at a party and a bar before getting into his pickup truck to visit his girlfriend in Fort Collins, Colo.
The crash killed eight members of the UW cross country team: Morgan McLeland, of Gillette; Nicholas Schabron, of Laramie; Justin Lambert-Belanger, of Timmins, Ontario; Cody Brown, of Hudson, Colo.; Kyle Johnson, of Riverton; Joshua Jones, of Salem, Ore.; Kevin Salverson, of Cheyenne; and Shane Shatto, of Douglas. They were in a sport-utility vehicle headed the opposite way.
Haskins was convicted and sentenced to 14 to 20 years in prison.
McLeland’s mother, Deborah McLeland, told the students they can make a difference.
“If you hear what we have to say, we have the power to influence,” McLeland said.
A 1974 UW graduate, McLeland said students got drunk back then, too.
“The only way to make changes for us is a culture change,” she said. “You are the future. You can change this. You can change it in your behavior, you can change it in the people you know. You can impact your friends. You can change things for people just by deciding that you are not going to do this anymore and you are going to have a voice about it.”
Haskins said he used to watch presentations warning against drinking and driving, just like the ones he gives now.
“I’d watch and I’d listen, I’d feel for the people involved,” Haskins said. “But I’d tell myself, ’That can’t happen to me.’ I’d find one thing that separated myself from them, one thing that made what I was doing different from them. I’d think, ’I’m too careful about how I do things.’ I’m too careful about the decisions that I make.”’
Haskins was recently moved to the Wyoming Department of Corrections boot camp program in Newcastle. He was released temporarily to give the presentation.