Mississippi State student-athlete killed in crash during graduation weekend

Photo: Mississippi State University Athletics

STARKVILLE, Miss. — A track athlete who had just graduated from college was killed while riding in a small car that was struck by a Mississippi Highway Patrol vehicle.

Kaelin Kersh, 22, of Pearl died in the wreck early Sunday near Starkville, multiple news outlets reported. She had graduated Friday night from Mississippi State University with a degree in kinesiology and health fitness studies.

The Highway Patrol is investigating.

Master Sgt. Criss Turnipseed said a trooper was eastbound on Highway 182 when a Toyota Corolla entered the highway about 1:25 a.m. Sunday. He said the trooper was on the way to verify a report of another vehicle leaving the highway when the crash occurred.

The driver of the Corolla, 21-year-old Noel Collier of Madison, and another passenger, 22-year-old Tanequa Alexander of Ridgeland, were hospitalized with injuries. They are also Mississippi State University students, the school said.

The name of the injured trooper was not immediately released.

The Clarion-Ledger reported that Kersh ran in the Bulldogs’ distance events and relays. She helped capture the distance medley relay at the 2016 Alabama Relays. During the 2017 indoor season, Kersh was a member of the distance medley and 4×400 relay teams.

“Kaelin always had a positive attitude and this was contagious to everyone around her,” MSU track and field coach Steve Dudley said in a statement, according to WTVA-TV. “Kaelin was a member of the most successful era of women’s track and field at Mississippi State, and that was largely due to the tight bond between her and her teammates.”

MSU athletic director John Cohen said Kersh “represented Mississippi State in a first-class manner.”

During the 2017 indoor season, Kersh competed on two relay teams at the Blazer Invitational, running the second leg on MSU’s second place distance medley relay group. She also ran on the 4×400 relay at the Blazer Invite. In last year’s outdoor season she captured the distance medley relay at the Alabama Relays, finishing with a total time of 11:27.97.