LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - Officials with Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas have identified the victim who died in a crash on I-71 North in Oldham County early Saturday morning as 21-year-old Nicholas Smith. Smith was traveling for a student organized mission trip to Syracuse, New York, where he was to be a summer youth intern.

Smith, originally from Buford, Georgia, was a senior youth and family ministry major at the University set to graduate in May, a member of Beta Omega Chi men's social club, and an honor student.

A statement from Harding University says two other passengers in the car were students Drew Taylor, who was airlifted to a Louisville hospital to have surgery Saturday morning and is stable and recovering, and Abby Owens, who was treated and released.  

"We are a very tight knit university and we know just about everyone and Nicholas was a bright light in our university," said Liz Howell, Director of Alumni Relations for Harding University.

Emergency crews responded to the accident near the 17.5 mile marker, near Buckner, around 1:15 a.m. Saturday morning. The area where the crash happened re-opened about 9 a.m. on Saturday, according to an Oldham County Police dispatcher.

Authorities have said several vehicles, including five cars and three semis were involved in the crash.

Officials say they found one of the vehicles on fire when they arrived at the scene.

"He had been hired to be an intern at a church in Syracuse, New York and he was just bringing his friends in to get to know the youth group," Holmes said, "It's just one of those things we cannot understand."

Workers with the Oldham County Police, Oldham County EMS and the Oldham County Sheriff's Office went to the crash site. Emergency workers from the Harrods Creek, South Oldham and La Grange Fire Departments also responded to the scene.

Traffic was diverted to Highway 42 while crews worked to clear the accident.

Officials are still working to determine if the cause of the crash was weather-related.

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