HARRISONBURG, Va. (WRIC) — Three James Madison University (JMU) students were killed in a tragic West Virginia car crash Thursday night and two others were sent to the hospital in critical condition, the university announced Friday.
The single-vehicle crash occurred around 10:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 2, on Route 259, near the West Virginia/Virginia line after the southbound vehicle ran off the road and hit a tree. Of the five students, three reportedly died at the scene, while the two others — the driver and an additional passenger — were med-flighted to the hospital in critical condition, according to the Hardy County Sheriff’s Office. All five students were 19-year-old men.
JMU said the students sent to the hospital with life-threatening injuries are still in the hospital as of Friday.
“The university is currently working to confirm details with local authorities and the families of the students,” JMU said in a letter to the university from the desk of Tim Miller, vice president for student affairs. “Families of the students have been notified of the accident and the university is working to provide additional support.”
At 4:30 p.m., JMU released another letter detailing the names of the three students who were killed:
-John “Luke” Fergusson (sophomore, majoring in media arts and design from Richmond)
-Nicholas Troutman (sophomore, majoring in business management from Richmond)
-Joshua Mardis (sophomore, majoring in communication studies from Williamsburg)
“These three young men will always be remembered as Dukes and will forever be in our hearts,” the letter reads. “In addition, please keep the two other students involved, who were also injured and are currently hospitalized from this accident, in your thoughts.”
The Hardy County Sheriff’s Office said the road condition at the time of the crash was dry, and it was a clear night outside.
“The were no signs of skid or yaw marks noted on the roadway surface indicating any type of evasive actions and no indications of an animal being struck,” the sheriff’s office said in a release.
The university says more updates will be shared as information becomes available.
“It is extremely difficult to process and understand unexplainable incidents such as this,” the university wrote. “Please know we are here to support you and ask each of you to lean on one another.”
The sheriff’s office said the students had been at a club prior to the crash but did not say whether alcohol was a factor.
“The JMU community grieves for our students lost and injured in a tragic car accident, for their families, friends and all who knew them,” a statement from JMU President Jonathan R. Alger reads. “Please support each other and know that the university is here to support you as well.”
In an Instagram post on Friday, the Harrisonburg Chapter of the Pi Beta Chi fraternity also released a statement.
“As many of you know, several of our friends were in a tragic accident Thursday evening and three of them passed away and two others are recovering in the hospital. Our hearts are broken for these young men, their families, their home communities, and for everyone here at JMU whose lives they touched,” the statement reads. “We would like to ask for privacy as we mourn those we have lost and support the two young men who are recovering … please look out for each other and hold your friends a little closer in the coming days.”
The university provided the following list of resources to the community:
-JMU’s Counseling Center or 540-568-6552
The Hardy County Sheriff’s Office is leading the investigation into the crash, with no updates expected until Monday.
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