Last weekend was deadly on Wyoming highways

Posted 1/31/23

Traffic accidents in Wyoming weekend of Jan. 20-22

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Last weekend was deadly on Wyoming highways


LYMAN — Five people killed in the Sunday evening crash on I-80 brought the state’s death toll on Wyoming highways for the weekend to eight.

This crash involved a group of five young people from Arkansas when a large Dodge truck driving the wrong way on Interstate 80 caused a chain-reaction crash involving multiple vehicles.

With the eight fatalities over the weekend, the death toll on Wyoming highways so far in 2023 is at 12. That compares to one by the time in 2022, eight in 2021 and three in 2020.

One of these included the fatal crash on Sunday at milepost 33 on Interstate 80, just west of the Fort Bridger exit. Wyoming Highway Patrol troopers were notified of a rollover crash at 5:39 a.m.

A 2007 Volvo Conventional commercial truck was headed east on Interstate 80 when the vehicle drifted off the left side of the road. The driver overcorrected the Volvo to the right and re-entered the roadway. The Volvo overturned, exited the road, and traveled down an embankment. The truck lost its windshield, then the cab was packed with snow as it slid forward and down an embankment, according to the Highway Patrol. As the vehicle continued down the embankment, the cab of the Volvo began to pack with snow trapping the driver and passenger in the cab.

Due to the depth of the embankment and the darkness, the vehicle was not immediately located. “The deep snow solidified and trapped the driver and co-driver in the sleeper berth,” according to a preliminary online WHP report of the crash. “Neither man could self-extricate and were buried under approximately 2 feet of snow.”

The Volvo semitrailer lost control traveling eastbound on I-80 when the crash happened at about 2:15 a.m. The crash was discovered about three hours later by a Wyoming Department of Transportation maintenance crew. The highway was dry, and the weather clear at the time of the crash, the report says. The WHP is investigating the possibility the driver was fatigued or may have fallen asleep.

This was the 6th and 7th fatalities on Wyoming’s roadways in 2023.

The first fatality of the weekend happened a little after 5 p.m. Saturday when a 1999 Dodge Ram pulling a flatbed trailer lost control on an icy and snow-covered Interstate 25 near milepost 67.

One passenger in the truck was killed, while the 15-year-old driver and another passenger were transported to hospitals for treatment of undisclosed injures, according to the WHP.

As for the accident Sunday that claimed the lives of the five from Arkansas, officials with the Pulaski County Special School District in Little Rock, Arkansas, confirmed to KATV television in Little Rock the crash killed two of the district’s current and three former high school students.

The students were traveling back to Arkansas after visiting Jackson Hole Bible College in Jackson Hole, KATV reported. They’ve been identified as Salomon Correa, Magdalene Franco, Andrea Prime, Suzy Prime and Ava Luplow.

Faith Bible Fellowship Church in Little Rock posted on its Facebook page that the church community “is mourning the loss of five of our young adults.”

The Dodge “collided with a commercial truck and a passenger car,” the WHP said in a press release. “As the Dodge truck collided with the passenger car, a driver of a second commercial truck attempted to avoid the approaching truck by driving into the median.”

That second commercial truck went through the median and into the eastbound travel lanes, where it hit a Ford F-150 “head-on,” the report says.

Those vehicles “immediately became engulfed in flames,” and all five people in the Ford F-150 were killed, the Highway Patrol reports.

Some people in the other vehicles involved in the crash were taken to area hospitals, with what the Highway Patrol said were “critical injuries.”

The driver of the Dodge that was driving the wrong way was identified as Arthur Nelson and was arrested on suspicion of driving impaired and faced more charges as the investigation into the crash unfolds, the WHP reports. On Wednesday, it was reported Nelson, has been charged with five felony counts of aggravated homicide due to the deaths of the five Arkansas residents and a laundry list of other charges.

Along with the five aggravated homicide charges, which each carry a presumptive sentence of up to 20 years in prison and/or up to a $10,000 fine, Nelson was charged with five other felonies in relation to the deadly crash.