‘It was 100% preventable’: Friend shares memories of two GCU students killed in wrong-way crash
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Students at Grand Canyon University are remembering and honoring three classmates killed in a wrong-way crash this week on Interstate 17. The Arizona Department of Public Safety says the driver was impaired and driving the wrong way for miles before the crash. Nicholas Noland grew up with Maggie Ogden and Aubrianna Hoffman in their small town of Clarkston, Washington. He says they are the only three people from their high school to move to Phoenix in a decade. Now, he feels all alone here again. He said the worst part is it was 100% preventable. “I just got a call from one of my close friends. He said, ‘Are you sitting down right now?’” said Noland.
It’s a call no friend ever wants to hear. “He said that Maggie passed away, going up to the Grand Canyon and Sedona for sunrise,” said Noland. Noland, an ASU student, was at home in his small town of Clarkston when he got the news that shattered his heart. “Maggie, she loved life. She was a really big animal person. I remember there were a lot of stories where Maggie just brought home random animals,” remembered Noland.
Investigators believe impairment was a factor in the collision. “It really hurt to fly back on Tuesday knowing that I had to leave my town and knowing that I am going to be the only one now in Phoenix. Because it gave me some comfort knowing I had some (Clarkston High School) Bantams that were also in Phoenix,” he explained.
Noland says the Hoffman and Ogden families are well known in their small town of less than 60,000. Ogden’s dad was even Noland’s P.E. teacher in middle school. “It’s a close-knit community where everyone knows each other, supports each other, and leans on each other,” Noland said.
Ogden and Hoffman were stars on their high school volleyball team and active volunteers in their town. To commemorate them in Phoenix, Noland brought two Clarkston T-shirts with him to honor the Grand Canyon University freshmen. “I have a responsibility to bring a piece of home to them and to the memorial so people in the Grand Canyon University community can know that those two people were not only just a part of the Lopes family but part of a city that is so close and is grieving right now,” he added.
What upsets Noland most about their death is that it was preventable. “These were three innocent people who lost their lives on Monday Morning. They should still be here,” Noland said. Noland adds he’s heard from ASU friends who knew the third victim, Hunter Balberdi. He describes her as “super kind and outgoing.” GCU has a vigil Thursday for the three victims at 8 p.m. on Prescott Field.
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