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Driver Crashes Into Cheyenne Bus On Thursday; Students Unharmed

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Cheyenne Police Department on Friday was investigating an incident in which a vehicle collided with a school bus on Thursday afternoon.

According to CPD spokeswoman Alex Farkas, the preliminary investigation shows that the driver of a Ford Explorer drove through a red light and the car collided with a school bus traveling the intersection.

Three Laramie County School District No. 1 students, a transportation assistant and the bus driver were on the bus at the time of the incident.

“Our drivers and TAs go through hours of training, so they are prepared for these types of situations,” LCSD1 spokeswoman Mary Quast said Friday. “In this instance, the training really paid off. All protocols were followed, and students remained safe. Parents were notified as soon as students were taken care of and determined to be uninjured.”

Both the drivers assisted officers with the investigation on Thursday, but both sustained minor injuries from the crash and were ultimately taken to Cheyenne Regional Medical Center for treatment. The students and TA were not injured.

Farkas did not comment to Cowboy State Daily on Friday about the status of either driver, but Quast said the bus driver was “doing well.”

“We are thankful that our students are safe and we hope that the driver of the other vehicle is okay,” Quast said.

Farkas told Cowboy State Daily on Friday that the department always encourages drivers to keep safety at the top of their mind, not only around school buses, but any time they are behind the wheel.

“Slow down, stay alert and remember that if your attention is anywhere other than the road, you’re driving distracted, and that puts you and others on the roadway at risk,” she said.

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Five Semis Involved In Crash Near Evanston, One Person Extricated

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

One man had to be removed from the wreckage Tuesday morning after five semi-trucks were involved in a collision on icy Interstate 80 near Evanston.

Uinta County Fire and Ambulance Chief Administrative Officer Eric Quinney told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday that it took about two hours to extricate the co-driver from one of the semis, as he had been asleep in the “sleeper” portion of the truck when the crash happened.

“They had to stabilize the truck, since it was the only one that overturned, with specialty equipment and make the proper cuts to get the co-driver out,” Quinney said. “Once we got him out, besides being cold, he was relatively unscathed. It was pretty miraculous.”

Quinney added that firefighters were talking with the man as they worked to extricate him, and he told them during the process that he was wedged in fairly tightly in the sleeper, but was unharmed.

None of the other drivers involved in the collision were harmed.

Once he was extricated, medical professionals checked the man for injuries. He declined transport to a hospital and instead stayed on scene to talk with the Wyoming Highway Patrol.

The truck the co-driver was trapped in was hauling products like almond milk. The other trucks involved included an Amazon Prime semi-truck, an RC Willey home furnishings truck and a Ryder truck, all of which were headed westbound at the time of the crash.

Quinney was unsure which of the trucks was the first in the pile-up, but noted that the accident occurred on a stretch of the interstate that turns into a hill, which can be dangerous in snowy and icy weather.

“I would imagine the accident was a chain reaction type of thing,” he said. “But it was awesome that our firefighters worked hard and put all of their training to the test, and it all worked out in the end.”

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Idaho Couple Suing Wyoming Attorney, Snowplow Driver For Negligence

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

An Idaho couple is suing a Wyoming Department of Transportation snowplow driver for negligence over a 2019 accident in Teton County and their former attorney on allegations he failed to file legal documents on time.

Jacquelyn and Jeffrey Battle are suing Alex F. Freeburg, a Jackson attorney, for failing to file notice of a claim against Shirley Weerheim, a former snowplow driver, and the state of Wyoming in a timely manner.

According to documents filed in U.S. District Court, Weerheim was operating a snowplow in Teton County on January 29, 2019 when it collided with a car, pushing that car into the one driven by the Battles.

The lawsuit accused Weerheim of driving “carelessly and recklessly” on a highway at the time of the accident and seeks damages from the DOT and her on allegations of negligence.

“Ms. Weerheim was following too closely, traveling too fast for conditions and failed to keep a proper lookout and was otherwise negligent in the operation of the snowplow,” the lawsuit alleged.

Freeburg, meanwhile, was accused of professional negligence for failing to file a claim on the Battles’ behalf with the state in a timely fashion.

Under Wyoming law, to obtain damages from a government entity or employee, person must first file a claim with the agency involved. If the claim is denied, then a lawsuit can commence. The claim must be filed within two years of the incident.

According to the lawsuit, on Jan. 27, 2021, Freeburg sent notices of governmental claims to the state General Services Division. The notices were received by the state on Feb. 1, 2021, just beyond the two-year time period for filing such claims.

Freeburg was notified that same day by the GSD that the claims had been rejected as untimely, since more than two years had passed since the date of the wreck.

Around March 1, 2021, Freeburg contacted the Battles to advise them he had missed the filing deadline for their case. They were “shocked and dismayed,” the lawsuit said, adding Freeburg offered no remedy or explanation.

According to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Freeburg not only failed to timely file the sufficient claims notices, but also failed to “timely investigate the claims or to take any appropriate action” on behalf of the Battles. They also claim he was negligent in other ways, such as failing to meet the applicable standards of care for attorneys.

The Battles are asking for damages for medical expenses incurred both in the past and “which can reasonably be expected to be incurred in the future,” loss of wages in the past and future, past and future pain and suffering and loss of physicality in Jacquelyn Battle due to injuries sustained in the crash and loss of enjoyment of life.

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Woman Dies After Crashing Vehicle Into Fireworks Store in Evanston

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A woman in her 60s died on Sunday after crashing her vehicle into an Evanston fireworks warehouse.

Evanston Police Chief Mark Vranish confirmed to Cowboy State Daily on Monday that a woman died Sunday after crashing her vehicle, but could not release much information other than that.

Vranish told the Uinta County Herald that the driver was “traveling at a high rate of speed before impact.”

The police were called around 7:15 a.m. Sunday about the crash, but could not say how long the woman had been at the Phantom Fireworks warehouse. She was supposed to be at work at 7 a.m.

The woman was transported Evanston Regional Hospital in critical condition, where she later died.

Her name has not yet been revealed. Police are looking into possible causes, including the possibility of a medical event. Vranish does not believe the cause to be alcohol or drug-related, but said “anything is possible.”

A commenter named Anthony on the Evanston newspaper’s website said he worked with the woman “in the kitchen at the Wyoming State Hospital.”

“She will be greatly missed. Prayers go out to your family in this difficult time. RIP Fidelina. God has other plans for you,” he wrote.

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WYDOT Employees Hospitalized After Being Hit By Suspected Impaired Driver

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A suspected impaired driver earlier this week drove his vehicle into a Wyoming Department of Transportation vehicle while road crew employees were working nearby, injuring the road workers, according to WYDOT accounts.

According to a social media post from the Wyoming Highway Patrol, around 7:30 a.m. on Monday, two Wyoming Department of Transportation employees were working on the shoulder of Interstate 80 near Green River, cleaning delineator posts.

The employees activated the “arrow board” on their state vehicle, alerting traffic of their presence.

A Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper was in the area and noticed an older Ford pickup that was traveling westbound, just east of the WYDOT employees, that was weaving across both lanes.

The trooper attempted to catch up with the Ford pickup to initiate a traffic stop.

However, the Ford collided with the rear of the WYDOT vehicle on the shoulder of the highway before the trooper could catch up with it. The collision caused the WYDOT vehicle to be pushed off the roadway, and the Ford pickup came to rest in the left lane of the interstate, causing the closure of I-80 westbound lanes until the scene could be cleared.

The Highway Patrol is investigating whether the driver of the pickup may have been impaired at the time of the accident.

The WYDOT employees were injured and transported to the Sweetwater County Memorial Hospital. The driver of the Ford pickup, a resident of Green River, sustained serious injuries, but is expected to recover.

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Police: Driver Claimed He Choked on Candy Bar Before Crash, Was Likely Asleep

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A truck driver claimed he choked on a candy bar before crashing his semi-truck in Uinta County earlier this week, but police think he was likely asleep at the wheel.

Bridger Valley Fire and Emergency Medical Services responded to a semi- rollover with the driver trapped inside on Sunday evening near Lyman on Interstate 80.

It took emergency personnel around 90 minutes to extract the truck driver, who was taken to Evanston Regional Hospital for injuries he sustained in the crsh.

Lt. Matt Harnell of the Uinta County Sheriff’s Office told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday that the driver told police that he was choking on a candy bar when he crossed a road lane, then overcorrected in steering before the truck flipped.

However, police don’t believe that this was the case.

“They think he was asleep,” Harnell said. “We see it a lot, not even just with truck drivers, but with a person in any type of vehicle. You just start looking at the evidence at the scene and put everything together.”

Harnell also said that the driver received broken legs in the collision due to the steering wheel collapsing on them when the semi flipped.

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