ST. LOUIS (CNN/KMOV.com) – Four people were killed, including two teens, after a pickup truck crossed a median on Interstate 64 and struck the minivan they were in Friday morning in Lake Saint Louis, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
A MSHP spokesperson said the driver of a Ford F-250 owned by Sweeten Concrete Co of Wentzville lost control and crossed the median into oncoming traffic on the westbound lanes near Highway 364. Somehow it broke through the median cable barrier and hit a minivan with Kentucky plates head-on around 11 a.m.
All four occupants of the minivan, two adults and two 12-year-old girls, were killed. According to MSHP, all four are from Louisville, Kentucky. Officials later identified the adult victims as Carrie McCaw, 44, and Lesley Prather, 40.
The pickup driver also hit an Acura MDX. The driver of the pickup, identified as Elijah Henderson, and the driver of the Acura suffered non-life threatening injuries.
The St. Charles County prosecutor’s office confirms there is now a criminal investigation against Henderson.
The interstate reopened just before 2 p.m.
The University of Louisville' athletic department wrote that they were heartbroken after learning of Prather's death. Prather was a former student and employee at the university.
"No words can do her justice. She was such a great, great kid," said Leonid Yelin, former Cardinal head volleyball who coached her during her career at UofL. "Nothing I could say could do her justice or be enough."
Prather and McCaw were heading to a volleyball tournament, The Triple Crown Volleyball, in Kansas City with their daughters, 12-year-old Rhyan Prather and 12-year-old Kacey McCaw.
Jared Rudiger, the Triple Crown NIT event director released the following statement:
"Everyone connected to the Triple Crown NIT is devastated at learning of the loss of four members of the KIVA family who died in a car accident Friday on their way to the tournament. Words are unable to express our sadness at the loss of Carrie and Kacey McCaw and Lesley and Rhyan Prather; we have been close partners with KIVA through the building of this event, and we will stand by them in this moment, along with all the KIVA families and loved ones."
Monday morning, the Louisville Fire Department and IAFF Local 345 released a statement regarding the deaths:
“The Louisville Fire Department and IAFF Local 345 want to express our deepest gratitude to the St. Louis community, especially the many St. Louis-area fire departments, its first responders and public safety agencies for their coordinated support over the past few days.
Our brothers and sisters with St. Louis Fire stood watch over Carrie, Kacey, Lesley and Rhyan until we were able to relieve them over the weekend. They and others are also providing a full escort to the Missouri state line for our procession home. We are so grateful for their understanding care.
We would also like to thank St. Louis-based Baue and Louisville-based Ratterman funeral homes for the way they have pulled together to accommodate the families during this difficult time.
We thank our teams back home, Louisville Fire, LMPD, MetroSafe, the Louisville community, as well as people and agencies from throughout the Kentucky region, for coming together to support us and the McCaw and Prather families in this time of tragedy."
-- Major Bobby Cooper, Louisville Fire Department and Brian O'Neill, president, IAFF Local 345
Prather's love of volleyball was always evident
Prather is survived by her husband, Justin, with whom she had four children. Prather played at Louisville from 1998 to 2001, the university said, describing her as "a standout player." She led the team to three conference championships, four NCAA appearances and a Sweet Sixteen appearance, the university said.
She was twice named All-Conference USA, was named to the the American Volleyball Coaches Association All-Region team and was on the Conference USA Commissioner's Honor Roll. "
This will never, ever, ever make sense. I can't wrap my head around this. I'm struggling to put into words how beautiful and powerful of a human Lesley was," said former teammate Stacey Mercer. "These words could never do justice to the sorrow we are all feeling."
Prather graduated from the University of Louisville in 2002 with a degree in business marketing. In 2005, she earned a master's degree in sports administration at Louisville, the university said.
"She was a great student, a great athlete, a fierce competitor, a great person and a great mom," said Leonid Yelin, former Louisville head volleyball coach. "She was the best teammate and always put her team first. I was blessed to have coached her."
After graduating, Prather was on the athletic staff as a coordinator for the outreach program CardsCare and worked in athletic marketing. She then served as the head volleyball coach from 2009 to 2012 for Indiana University Southeast, where she led the team to four straight KIAC semifinal appearances and never had a losing record during her tenure, Louisville said in a statement.
Prather joined the Louisville Metro Fire Department in 2016, the department said in a statement on Twitter.
Prather was also active in the club volleyball scene, coaching for the Kentucky Indiana Volleyball Academy, a local Louisville volleyball club.
"Our KIVA family will never be the same and we send prayers and love to all of the families touched by this tragedy," the academy said in a statement.
McCaw was a 'standout athlete' who broke records
McCaw was two-sport athlete in basketball and volleyball at Assumption High School in Louisville, graduating in 1994.
McCaw played volleyball at Syracuse from 1994 to 1997 and was a team captain her senior year, the school said.
McCaw earned All-Big East academic team honors and was a member of the Syracuse University Athletic Director's Honor Roll every semester, the school said. She also broke records during her career at Syracuse -- she set the school's record for matches played in a season and is second in career matches played.
"McCaw ranks third on the Syracuse all-time assists record and is ninth in career digs," Syracuse said in a statement.
McCaw graduated from Syracuse with a a degree in managerial law and public policy and a minor in political science, the school said.
She spent one year as an assistant volleyball coach at Rutgers University before starting her career at the law firm Ice Miller LLP, where she worked for the past 20 years. In 2002, McCaw earned her master's degree in management from Indiana Wesleyan University.
McCaw is survived by her husband, David, with whom she had four children.