By MEAD GRUVER
CHEYENNE -- Husband-and-wife wildlife veterinarians who were nationally
prominent experts on chronic wasting disease and brucellosis were killed
in a snowy-weather crash on U.S. 287 in northern Colorado, authorities
Tom Thorne and Beth Williams, both of rural Albany County, Wyo., died
when their pickup truck hit a jackknifed trailer Wednesday night,
according to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and Colorado Highway
Williams, 53, had taught at the University of Wyoming since 1982 and was
also familiar with wildlife diseases. "She was probably the foremost
chronic wasting disease expert in the country," Game and Fish spokesman
Al Langston said.
Thorne, 63, was acting director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department
for nine months in 2002 and 2003. He worked in the department for 35
years before retiring in 2003 and was a prominent researcher of chronic
wasting disease in deer and elk, as well as of brucellosis in bison and
The accident happened around 10 p.m. on snowpacked pavement near
Virginia Dale a few miles south of the Wyoming line, according to
Colorado State Trooper Scott Boskovich.
Both vehicles had been going at least 10 mph below the speed limit.
After spinning out of control and coming to a stop in the northbound
lanes, the trailer was struck by Williams' and Thorne's 2002 Ford
pickup, which was wedged underneath, according to Master Trooper Ron
The rig driver, Bruce Gustin, 45, of Divide, Colo., was unhurt. Neither
drug nor alcohol use was suspected.
Tom Buchanan, vice president for academic affairs at the University of
Wyoming, said he was saddened to hear of the deaths. "She will be missed
by her colleagues her students and her friends who include everyone who
cares about wildlife and ranching in the Rocky Mountain West," he said
of Williams in a prepared statement.
Williams earned a bachelor's in zoology from the University of
Maryland-College Park, followed by a doctorate of veterinary medicine
from Purdue in 1977 and a doctorate in veterinary pathology from
Colorado State University in 1981.
She earned several honors during her 22 years at the University of
Wyoming, including the Wildlife Disease Association's Distinguished
Service Award in 1996 and, in 1999, the Wyoming Game Warden
Association's award for outstanding assistance to wildlife law
Thorne was one of three finalists for Game and Fish director in 2003.
Previously he was assistant chief and chief of the department's Services
Division, and branch chief of the state's Wildlife Veterinary Research
Over the years he was also vice president of the Wildlife Disease
Association, chairman of the Advisory Council for the American
Association of Wildlife Veterinarians, and chairman of the U.S. Health
Association's Wildlife Diseases Committee.
He held a bachelor's degree in zoology and doctorate in veterinary
medicine from Oklahoma State University.
Chronic wasting disease is similar to mad cow disease, causing brain
wasting and eventually death. It emerged in Colorado and Wyoming more
than 30 years ago and has been found in recent years as far away as
Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Brucellosis is a bacterial disease that can cause cattle to abort their
calves. It is common in elk and bison in northwest Wyoming and
Yellowstone National Park. Brucellosis also has been detected in a
handful of cattle herds in Wyoming over the past year, causing the state
to lose its federal status as a brucellosis-free state.
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car crashes suck .
Thanks for the info George.