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Prominent Wildlife Experts Die in Colo. Highway Crash

The husband-and-wife veterinarians from Wyoming specialized in chronic wasting disease.

December 31, 2004|From Associated Press

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — 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 confirmed Thursday.

Tom Thorne and Beth Williams, both of rural Albany County, Wyo., died when their 2002 Ford pickup truck hit a jackknifed trailer Wednesday night, according to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and Colorado Highway Patrol.

Williams, 53, had taught at the University of Wyoming since 1982. "She was probably the foremost chronic-wasting-disease expert in the country," Game and Fish spokesman Al Langston said.

Thorne, 64, was acting director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department for nine months in 2002 and 2003. He worked at 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 elk.

The accident occurred around 10 p.m. on snow-packed pavement near Virginia Dale, a few miles south of the Wyoming line, Colorado State Trooper Scott Boskovich said.

The rig driver, Bruce Gustin, 45, of Divide, Colo., was unhurt. He was charged Thursday with two counts of careless driving causing death.

Neither drug nor alcohol use was suspected.

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