BYU athlete killed in car accident

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(Photo courtesy Utah Department of Public Safety)

Sarah Dallof and Tom Callan reporting

Friends remember Brigham Young University freshman athlete Chelsi Petersen who was killed in a car collision early Friday morning in Provo Canyon. They say they are still in shock about what has happened.

The Utah Highway Patrol says Paul Smith and Chelsi Petersen were driving up Provo Canyon late Thursday night. Smith, who was driving the car, made a left-hand turn at Squaw Peak and apparently didn't see an oncoming car. They were struck, and Petersen died at the scene.

Photo courtesy BYU
Photo courtesy BYU

Petersen was a freshman at BYU and already making her mark as a talented athlete. She recently finishing seventh in the heptathlon at the Mountain West Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

Friends say she didn't stop after that, that she just kept training while still managing to leave time to enjoy life. Friend and teammate Mindy Robins said, "She was a very caring person, just always, always so sweet. I don't know, we just had so much fun together."

Head coach of the BYU men's track Mark Robison remembered Petersen as "a young lady that had a lot of energy, a lot of drive. She wanted to be very good in track and field."

"Words cannot begin to express our feelings," BYU head women's track coach Craig Poole said. "It's devastating. Chelsi was one of the sweetest young ladies we have ever had on our team. She had a tremendous desire to be successful. She wanted to be here at BYU, competing, more than anything else in the world. It's just really too difficult to comprehend at the moment."

Friends say Petersen was an excellent role model for her younger sister and brother and will be greatly missed.

Mindy Robins said, "I can't even get across what an incredible person she was. I can't imagine what it will be like now."

Mindy Robins and Chelsi Peterson were close friends who pushed one another to be the best.

Peterson, a St. George native, had recently placed seventh in the heptathlon at the Mountain West Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championship. Asst. BYU track and field coach Dick Legas said, "She wanted to win every race, everybody she competed against, that's what made her good."

Paul Smith was preparing to compete in the U.S. Olympic Trials this month in Eugene, Ore. He is now in ICU with several cracked ribs and a collapsed lung. However, his coach says there is an excellent chance he will fully recover.

Smith had been volunteering at Timpview High School, training young track and field competitors. As for the Olympics, his coach says that's the last thing on the sprinter's mind.

Chelsi's friends are already at work on a quilt with messages and photos to give to her family.



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