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Shasta College wrestling team involved in van crash

Some Shasta College wrestlers were injured when their school van was involved in a two-vehicle crash in northern California Saturday night.

The Shasta College van carrying school wrestlers was returning to their campus in Redding, Calif. from the Northern California Regional Wrestling Tournament at Lassen Community College in Susanville, Calif. when a Kia Optima crossed the centerline while attempting to pass a semi and struck the van head-on, knocking it on its side.

The crash took place near the intersection of Highway 44 and 36, approximately 40 miles east of Redding, at about 6 p.m. Saturday, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The Kia driver, Golan D. Moshe of Miami, Florida, suffered major but non-life-threatening injuries, and was flown by helicopter to Renown Medical Center in Reno, Nevada, the CHP reported.

A family member of a Shasta Knights wrestler told ABC affiliate KRCR-TV that a handful of Shasta College wrestlers and coaches suffered minor injuries.

Team members Mitchell Davis, 18, Robert Kaempfer, 20, and Nicholas Paoletti, 19, along with assistant coaches Logan Paul Eickhoff, 25, who was driving the van, and assistant coach Robert Purcell, 60. All occupants of the van were wearing their seat belts, the CHP said, and declined medical treatment.

"Everyone in our school's vehicle was OK other than some bad bruises and cuts," Shasta College head wrestling coach Thomas told InterMat Tuesday morning. "The guys are pretty sore still today."

Thomas, following behind in another van with four other team members, witnessed the accident. His van was cresting a hill when he saw the other van slam on its brakes and swerve to try to get out of the way of the car, but could not avoid being hit.

"There was debris flying everywhere," coach Thomas told the Redding Record-Searchlight.

Immediately after the crash, Thomas said team members jumped into action, directing traffic and helping the injured, including the driver of the car, who was semi-conscious.

"It was a real team effort," Thomas said, adding he couldn't be prouder of his team and coaches for their quick and unselfish action to help.

Coach Thomas was also proud of his wrestlers' performance at the Lassen tournament.

"On the positive note, Shasta College qualified six out of seven wrestlers for the CCCAA State Championships, the most for Shasta College in seven years," Thomas told InterMat. "Two of the qualifiers were in the van that crashed and we are hopeful they will recover in time for the state tournament this weekend."

The state championships will take place this Friday and Saturday at Delta College in Stockton.

Shasta College is a two-year community college located in Redding, approximately 200 miles north of the San Francisco Bay area, and about 100 miles south of the California-Oregon state line. Founded in 1950, the school has an enrollment of approximately 8,500 students.

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