A deer-hunting trip turned tragic Sunday for two Kentucky football players and a third man when their truck flipped on a rural highway, killing two of them and injuring starting center Jason Watts.
Killed were Arthur Steinmetz, 19, of Edgewood, a defensive lineman who transferred to Kentucky from Michigan State in August and was sitting out the season, and Christopher Brock, 21, of Hyden.
Watts, a three-year starter, was in fair condition Sunday after being airlifted to Lexington's University of Kentucky Medical Center.
Pulaski County Sheriff Sam Catron said the accident happened just before 7 a.m. EST on southbound U.S. 27, about 60 miles south of Lexington and 10 miles north of Somerset.
Catron said the 1985 Chevy pickup truck in which the men were traveling drifted onto the west shoulder of the road. Watts, who was driving, apparently got the truck back on the pavement but overcorrected, sending it across the two-lane highway and off the other side of the road, where it flipped over, throwing all three men from the vehicle, Catron said.
Brock and Steinmetz both were pronounced dead at the scene.
"It's a total shock. It's awful. It's just terrible," Michigan State coach Nick Saban said Sunday after informing his players of Steinmetz's death. "Artie Steinmetz was a fine young man, very well respected around here as a worker and as a person."
"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. This is just a very tragic thing for a young man who had a very bright future not only as a football player but as a person," Saban said.
Watts was taken to Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital in Somerset before being airlifted to Lexington.
Kentucky spokesman Tony Neely said Wildcats coach Hal Mumme would have a statement later Sunday.
Catron said the weather was clear at the time and police were investigating. He said investigators took blood samples from Watts for alcohotesting by the state police lab in Frankfort, a routine step in such cases.
The 7-3 Wildcats were coming off a 55-17 home win Saturday over Vanderbilt. They finish their regular season Saturday against undefeated and top-ranked Tennessee at Knoxville.
Neely said no practices were planned Sunday and that Mumme and his coaching staff would speak with players Monday afternoon during a regularly scheduled meeting.
Watts has been a three-year starter at center for the Wildcats and a mainstay on a senior-laden offensive line that has given star quarterback Tim Couch good protection all season.
A 6-foot-3, 271-pounder from Oveido, Fla., Watts is known for his fondness for alligator wrestling and had caught two passes this season, both off deflections.
Steinmetz had attended Covington Catholic High School and then Michigan State before transferring. He would have had three years of eligibility remaining starting with the 1999 season.
Brock had no official connection to the football team, but was a native of the same small eastern Kentucky mountain town where Couch grew up.
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