UMO mourns fourth death in fatal wreck

Staff reports

Little more than a week removed from a deadly wreck that claimed the lives of local students, a fourth University of Mount Olive student has succumbed to her injuries — the fourth death in the March 13 collision.

“It seems almost incomprehensible that in the past eight days, the University of Mount Olive has mourned the loss of four students,” said UMO Interim President Dr. Edward Croom on Saturday. “But, today we learned that Chaney Partrich has succumbed to the injuries she sustained in that deadly crash which occurred on March 13. We, as a community, are grieving with her family and friends at a life lost much too soon.”

Partrich was a freshman exercise science major from Chapin, S.C. Her death brings the total loss of life from the deadly Wayne County crash to four.

Madison Mergl of Sayville, N.Y.; Ann Wray of Oakland, N.J.; Jett Swetland from Sparta, Ohio; and now Partrich, have all died as a result of the injuries they sustained in the collision, which happened at the intersection of Indian Springs Road and Highway 55. The students were in a Jeep that was struck by an oncoming transfer-trailer truck.

“These parents, their extended families, their friends, their teammates, and our entire campus community are devastated,” said Croom. “Words cannot express our heartfelt sorrow.”

Croom encouraged continued prayers of healing for the others injured in the wreck, including sophomore biology major Tiffany Lee of Gambrills, Md.; freshman exercise science major Alex Eubanks of Bowie, Md.; and sophomore healthcare management major Amber McCarthy of Havelock, N.C.

Six of the seven students injured in the wreck, including Mergl and Wray, were on UMO’s women’s lacrosse team.

Freshmen exercise science major Mergl, and sophomore agribusiness major Wray, were pronounced dead following the wreck. Swetland, a senior business management major and former baseball player at UMO, succumbed to his injuries on March 16.

“The UMO family continues to struggle with the devastating loss of these young and talented members of our campus community,” Croom said last week.

The university has continued to offer its condolences in the wake of what university officials called a “horrific accident.” The students were airlifted to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville.

“It is a sad day for the University of Mount Olive,” Croom stated following the initial announcement of the deadly incident. “We are in prayer for everyone involved in this horrific accident. The University of Mount Olive is a close-knit community and this has hit us all hard.”

Staff reports