Two U spirit squad recruits killed in car accident

A drunk driver reportedly hit the vehicle near Madison, Wisc. early Thursday.

Sarah Nienaber

Two of three people killed in a car accident near Madison, Wisc. early Thursday morning were affiliates of University of Minnesota.

Wilfredo Ugarte, 23, and Marcus Johnson, 19, were in the process of joining the University spirit squad, said University spokesman Dan Wolter in a statement. Johnson was recently cleared for the team and was slated to begin studies at the University in January.

“Regardless of their enrollment status, both of these individuals were very much a part of our spirit squad – and our community.  Both had hoped to both be on the cheer team and be enrolled students at the university,” 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.”

Ugarte and Johnson were driving home to Milwaukee from the Twin Cities with three other people. The group was changing a flat rear tire when 31-year-old Bradley Erickson, who was allegedly intoxicated, swerved off the road, hitting the stopped vehicle and those standing around it.

Three of the five passengers were outside helping with the repair at the time, according to Wisconsin State Patrol. A third passenger is affiliated with the University was among the passengers but is uninjured.

Erickson suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was arrested at approximately 2:30 a.m. Thursday.

The studentsâÄô vehicle was stopped on the shoulder of Interstate 39 in Burke, Wisc., about 10 miles northeast of Madison.