A University of Maryland sophomore who had just finished celebrating the end of final exams with a night on the town was crushed to death early yesterday after she took a dare to run between the wheels of a tractor-trailer.
According to Prince George's County police, 21-year-old Kimberly Wisner and two friends emerged from a College Park bar and dared each other to run under the truck, which was stopped at a red light at Baltimore Boulevard and Knox Road.
The first two women made it, Wisner did not.
Just as Wisner took the dare, police reported, the traffic light turned green and the truck moved, pinning Wisner beneath the rear wheels.
The driver of the truck, John L. Bradshaw, 32, of Columbus, Ga., stopped the rig when he heard screams from a crowd of students, many of whom were emerging from the Rendezvous Inn, the bar Wisner had just left.
Wisner was taken to Prince George's General Hospital in Cheverly after the 2 a.m. accident. She died on the hospital operating table three hours later.
"She had a delightful future ahead of her," said Carl Bode, a University of Maryland English professor who taught Wisner earlier this year.
"I'm surprised and saddened by the news," Bode said. "But I know enough about peer pressure and the end of school to know that none of us is ever completely steady. We all take dares. Usually, thank heavens, they end all right. This, unfortunately, did not."
University of Maryland police officials said yesterday that dares and pranks are a part of everyday life on the large College Park campus, where more than 37,000 students are enrolled. But it has been five years since campus hijinks resulted in a student's death.
"I wasn't surprised that it happened to a student," said university officer Harold Casteel. "But I was surprised that it happened to a girl. There's not much chicken stuff like that going on with girls, but there is with boys."
"It's a very sad situation," said Prince George's County police Sgt. Robert Law. "She spends all this time in college and ends up like this."
Students in sororities and fraternities near Wisner's campus residence described the textile design major as a "very pretty" brunette who liked to jog.
Bode, who taught her in a course on the lives of 19th century American writers Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, said, "she liked the outdoors. I think that's why she liked Thoreau. He liked the outdoors too."
Wisner was "very conscientious," Bode said. "She was quiet but when she spoke in class she had something to say."
Wisner had finished her last final exam Tuesday night, according to police. Her two companions, whose names were unavailable, were students at the university but not members of her sorority.
A few students gathered on the steps of the Alpha Phi house yesterday afternoon, some trembling and others with tears in their eyes. "I was with her last night and I don't want to talk about it," one young woman said as she went back into the house at 7402 Princeton Ave. in College Park. None of the rest of the group had any comment.
Police said Wisner was the daughter of Thomas A. Wisner of Solomon's Island, Md. They did not know the name or address of Wisner's mother.
One woman from a nearby sorority said Wisner had a brother who attends the University of Maryland.
There have been no charges filed against the driver of the truck, police said.