2004: Newsmakers - Arizona player loses parents, girlfriend in crash
When University of Arizona junior Nathan Lashley finished his final round May 22 at the NCAA West Regional in Sunriver, Ore., he did so in style. Lashley, who played his first nine -- the back nine -- in 5 over, drained a 45-foot birdie putt to finish a 2-over round and help lead the Wildcats to a third-place finish.
On hand to watch that putt disappear into the hole on the ninth green were Lashley’s parents, Rod and Char, and his girlfriend, Leslie Hofmeister, 19. The trio flew to Oregon from their hometown of Scottsbluff, Neb., aboard a four-seat plane piloted by Rod Lashley.
When Lashley’s final putt fell, the trio let out a big cheer. It would be the last golf stroke they would ever see Nathan take.
Early May 23, Lashley’s parents and Hofmeister boarded the small plane bound for Nebraska. Initial reports indicate they ran into some foul weather over Wyoming.
Following an extensive search – which began May 24 – of the mountainous area around Yellowstone National Park, the airplane finally was located crashed into the side of a mountain. There were no survivors.
“Obviously this is extremely devastating,” Arizona coach Rick LaRose said. “I mean when you lose three of the closest people to you all at once like this it’s got to be very difficult to handle.”
Meanwhile, Arizona, No. 8 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings, was trying to prepare for the NCAA Championship June 1-4 at The Homestead in Hot Springs, Va. Lashley had played in the No. 3 spot for the Wildcats. Before tying for 33rd at the West Regional, he finished 20th to help Arizona to the Pac-10 Conference title. He did not compete at the NCAA finals.
LaRose said a memorial service for Rod and Char Lashley was scheduled for June 1, while another for Hofmeister was scheduled June 2.
“It’s really going to be a tough week on all of us,” LaRose said. “It’s been tough to keep our minds on golf. Our hearts go out to Nate. He’s holding up as well as I guess can be expected, but it’s really been rough on him.