U Spirit Squad recruits killed in crash

The driver of the other vehicle was arrested on drunk driving charges.

Sarah Nienaber

An alleged drunk driver killed three people, including two students affiliated with the University of Minnesota, in Wisconsin early Thursday.

Marcus Johnson, 19, and Wilfredo Ugarte, 23, were Spirit Squad recruits at the University. The two men were driving to Milwaukee with three friends when they stopped to repair a blown tire.

While changing the tire, Ugarte and Johnson were struck by an alleged drunk driver. The two were pronounced dead at the scene Thursday morning, while the third member of their party was taken to a nearby hospital and later pronounced dead.

The driver of the other vehicle, 31-year-old Bradley Erickson of Madison, was arrested on drunk driving charges at approximately 2:30 a.m. Thursday, according to a Wisconsin State Patrol report.

Both Ugarte and Johnson had been going through the audition process for the Spirit Squad. Johnson had been cleared for the team and was planning on enrolling at the University for spring semester, University spokesman Dan Wolter said.

Ugarte had not yet made the squad, Wolter said.

“Regardless of their enrollment status, both of these individuals were very much a part of our Spirit Squad âÄî and our community,” Wolter said.

“Their loss is truly painful for all of those who knew them, including the cheerleaders who spent time with them training and working to make the team,” he said.

University senior Rachel Bowers-Sword described Ugarte as having a positive attitude with a smile always on his face.

“He never had a problem fitting in and making friends,” Bowers-Sword explained. “He was just so nice.”