USD student killed in accident near Vermillion

A University of South Dakota student was killed late Thursday in a two-vehicle accident near Vermillion.

Elizabeth W. Lias, 21, was headed east about one mile east of Vermillion on Highway 50 in a 1995 Ford Taurus at 11:37 p.m. when she was struck by a 2002 Taurus driven by Alyxandra Harter, 20, of Omaha.

Harter, also a USD student, was driving in the wrong direction on the four-lane highway divided by a median, according to Lt. Alan Welsh of the South Dakota Highway Patrol. Her vehicle struck the left side of Lias' vehicle.
Lias was killed at the scene. Harter was airlifted to a Sioux Falls hospital with serious but nonlife threatening injuries.

"It is pretty clear cut as to what happened. Why it happened is the only thing," said Welsh.

Highway Patrol officials are doing an accident reconstruction. Welsh also said Friday he did not know if alcohol was a contributing cause of the accident. Both drivers were wearing seatbelts.

Lias' uncle, Dave Lias of Vermillion, said he thinks his niece was headed to Sioux Falls to meet up with her brother. The two were planning to go to Minneapolis this weekend to attend the wedding of a step-sister.
"That, to the best of my knowledge, is why she was on the road at that time," Dave Lias said.

Lias lived in Sioux Falls while attending school at USD. She was an International Studies major, a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority and a member of the Political Science League.

Her interest in the world led to her joining a Political Science League study tour to Russia last year.

"She was bubbly, goal oriented, very intelligent," Dave Lias said.

"She had this very unique sense of humor. When you knew you were going to be around her, you knew eventually she would do or say something to make you laugh. She was just that kind of person."

The two kept in contact in Vermillion through Twitter messages, and Dave Lias said she sent him a message shortly after noon Thursday reporting on her progress chipping and putting in a golf class.

"I think I'm about ready to put it all together!" she wrote.
USD Spokesman Phillip Carter said of the accident "we are all very devastated by it. It is a sad day for the USD community."

Elizabeth Lias "was a very active student. Our condolences go out to her family and friends," said Carter.

The university also is making counseling available through Greek Life and Student Services to any USD students having difficulty dealing with the tragedy, especially to members of Lias' sorority, Carter said.

Lias' friends have set up a Facebook page in her memory.

Funeral services was at Memorial Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls. A viewing will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. Monday, with a prayer service at 7 p.m. The funeral will take place Tuesday at 10:30 a.m.

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