Four students injured in SUV rollover

Amy Poppinga

Amy Poppinga

A group of SDSU students faced common danger in an exotic place this summer when their SUV rolled during a university-sponsored trip to Africa.

Haylea Hamaker Bordeaux, a senior nursing major who witnessed the accident, said a back tire blew out on the SUV while the vehicle was traveling between 50 to 75 mph. This caused it to swerve into the oncoming lane of traffic and travel down a ditch. The SUV then hit a ravine and rolled several times, she said.

“When the Jeep went into the ditch, I thought it would be fine, and then they hit the ravine and I started screaming to our driver, “Stop, stop, stop,” because when they started to roll, I knew they were in trouble,” said Hamaker Bordeaux, who was traveling in a nearby SUV at the time of the accident.

SDSU students Bianca Rodriguez, Martha Koenig, Shawntay Lupi and Ryan Stee were involved in the accident. Injuries ranged from bruises and cuts that required stitches to fractured vertebrae, Hamaker Bordeaux said.

Those students with the most serious injuries were not wearing seatbelts, and one of those students was ejected from the vehicle. The student who was wearing a seatbelt was not seriously injured.

“I’ve never seen anyone that shocked,” Hamaker Bordeaux said of one of the injured students.

Though it had been rumored, the university is not currently being sued by any of the injured students, administrators said.

“Nothing legal is happening with SDSU with the accident,” said Mike Reger, vice president for administration.

Those injured declined to comment. Trip adviser Zeno Wicks could not comment on the accident.

The Africa trip, which ran from May 9 to June 1, took a group of almost 30 students and faculty to places such as Ghana, Togo, Benin and Burkina Faso. The accident happened while the students were traveling in Ghana on one of the first days of the trip.

The group did have to leave a few of its members in Ghana for part of the trip as they received medical attention. Hamaker Bordeaux said it was hard to leave those members behind for a while, but the accident actually brought the group closer together.

“It was an eye opener,” she said. “We knew it could have been a lot worse, so we wanted to make the most of the trip.”

While in Africa, the students visited the Cape Coast, rode camels, stayed with host families and camped out in the Sahara Desert.

“After the accident, there were only a few hitches here and there,” said group member Megan Schiferl, a sophomore undecided major in the pre-medicine program. “Other than that, the trip was just flawless.”

Schiferl described the trip as wonderful overall and said an accident that could have happened anywhere should not prevent other students from taking the trip.

“Study abroad is amazing because you learn things you didn’t know you didn’t know,” she said.