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Two Missouri Southern State University football student-athletes were killed in a crash on Interstate 44 between Joplin and Springfield early Friday morning. Two other Missouri Southern State student-athletes – one a football player and the other a golfer – were seriously injured.
The two students killed in the accident were Michael McCrimmons, a freshman defensive back from Springfield, and Diondre Johnson, a redshirt freshman tight end from Springfield.
The two other student-athletes involved in the accident were Jeremy Johnson, a freshman football player from Harrison, Ark., and Patrick Holt, a freshman golfer from Rogers, Ark. Both were injured in the accident, which shut down the eastbound lanes of I-44. Holt was flown to St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, while Johnson was taken to St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa, Okla.
According to the Missouri Highway Patrol, the accident occurred at about 2:30 a.m., Friday, Dec. 2. The Highway Patrol reported that the SUV in which the four student-athletes were riding apparently went over the median cable barrier into the eastbound lanes and overturned, ejecting one of the passengers. The overturned vehicle came to rest in the eastbound lanes of I-44 and was then hit by a tractor-trailer, killing one of the passengers. Another passenger was injured after being hit by a car after exiting the overturned SUV.
A team meeting with football players was held at noon Friday on the Missouri Southern State campus. Athletics Director Jared Bruggeman and head football coach Bart Tatum, along with other athletics department officials and counselors, met with the student-athletes.
The university will hold a candlelight vigil in remembrance of the two students at 6:30 p.m. tonight (Friday, Dec. 2). The school is planning a remembrance service next week.
“At this time, everything possible is being done to support our students, their families and friends,” said Missouri Southern State President Bruce W. Speck. “Our prayers go out to their families and friends.”