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Lauren McCluskey’s former coach: UofU ‘failed her’ and ‘gambled with her life’

Local (Utah/State News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – On the eve of the anniversary of a former University of Utah student’s murder, ABC4 News sits down with one of Lauren McCluskey’s former track coaches.

“She drove 150 miles round trip for me to coach her,” Chris Vogel told ABC4’s Brittany Johnson. “All we worked on was javelin. She was horrible at javelin,” the coach said as he laughed, remembering the good times he shared with McCluskey. 

Vogel is in town from Washington state to attend and deliver a speech at Tuesday’s vigil. Organizers say the purpose of the vigil is to honor McCluskey’s life.

“She was priceless. There will never be anyone like her again,” he said.

Police say a man McCluskey briefly dated murdered the former track star on the University of Utah campus. 

“Up until this point, it’s been nothing but dealing with the ache, the heartache, the brutality of what happened to us, the shock, the crying that we’ve had for a year. Ok, that’s enough; we’re done with this. We’re done with the crying piece. Next step. Let’s go ahead and get things going,” Vogel told ABC4’s Brittany Johnson.

Leading up to her death, McCluskey reached out to campus police multiple times for help. 

Vogel says the university failed her.

“They didn’t value it. That is the ugly truth. Lauren’s life was not, at some very basic levels, worth fighting for. They didn’t realize they were actually gambling with life.”

“It is clear that there were mistakes and shortcomings in that case and the university’s first priority afterwards was to understand what happened and to try to address and fix those problems,” Annalisa Purser, Spokesperson for the University of Utah, admitted. 

Purser says since McCluskey’s murder, the university has implemented changes to help with campus safety.

“The more impediments they can put in, the longer they can stretch out the process, the more they feel they can separate us from the murder, us away from the communities and become passively numb to what happened to the place where we want to forget about it and walk away from it — if they are able to do that, they could win the circumstance. We cannot allow that,” Vogel said in response.

Vogel wants the University of Utah to support SB 134. If passed, the bill would require Utah’s eight public universities and top technical colleges to draft campus safety plans, tackling things like domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. 

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