NEWS

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June 28, 2010

Updated: Student dies in Virginia car crash

This article has been updated and revised.

A day after a car crash that left him and another College student in intensive care, rising fourth-year Ian Cumings passed away Sunday night in Virginia.

Cumings and rising third-year and Maroon photographer Shane Coughlan were pulling out of a median on Interstate 95 in Stafford, Virginia Saturday at approximately 11:20 p.m. when the car swiped a tractor-trailer, then hit a highway guardrail, according to Sgt. F. L. Tyler, a public information officer with the Virginia State Police. Coughlan is recovering at Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg.

Cumings died at 10:20 p.m. Sunday night, Tyler said in a phone interview Tuesday.

"Ian was a great friend, and an amazing person," said rising fourth-year Conor Hughes in an e-mail.

Though not available for comment, Cumings' family released an obituary. "Ian loved sports and especially the Chicago White Sox. He played Little League baseball and in his senior year in high school was a member of the Michigan state championship tennis team. He loved to manage football, baseball, and basketball teams in the fantasy leagues. He had many friends, who admired his quiet, kind, and very funny temperament," it read.

Cumings, who according to the obituary was a dean's list student and member of fraternity Delta Kappa Epsilon, is the son of history department chair and professor Bruce Cumings and University of Virginia Dean of Arts and Sciences Meredith Woo.

The students were driving from Washington D.C. to Cumings' home in Charlottesville, Virginia, Saturday night in Coughlan's car, according to Coughlan's father. Tyler said Cumings was in the driver's seat when the crash ocurred.

The car swiped a tractor-trailer as it pulled out of the median, causing an "accordian-effect" in which the truck bumped into an empty tour bus in the next lane and the bus into a car in the left lane, according to Sgt. F. L. Tyler.

He said the car Cumings was driving hit the guardrail and rolled into a grassy median, where it caught fire. The students were extricated before it caught fire and were not burned, Tyler said, though they were seriously injured. They were transported to Mary Washington hospital from the scene, Tyler said.

Coughlan, who is a brother at the same fraternity, suffered a fractured skull, his father Michael said. The accident “destroyed the car and the boys,” he said.

Coughlan’s family is with him at the hospital, where he is conscious but not yet speaking, according to his father. “Some of it’s the medicine, some of it’s the injury," Michael Coughlan said. "The neurologist is hopeful that he’ll come around.”

His recovery could take months, his father said.

“It’s been hard for me to see him as healthy and happy and everything, and now he’s breathing through a tube,” his father said. “One minute he got home and got good grades and everything, and the next minute he’s learning how to speak again."

The case is being investigated by Virginia State Trooper J. P. Kletzke. Tyler said it seemed that the car's indicator signal was not used when it merged into traffic, and that alcohol is not suspected as being involved.

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