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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2001 Express Publishing Inc. 
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 


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For the week of June 6 - June 12, 2001


Woman takes 
life in crash

Express Staff Writer

Deputy Jamie Shaw and tow truck operators use a winch to remove Cicely Nicolai’s Range Rover from Trail Creek last Wednesday. Nicolai left a suicide note at her Sun Valley home before driving off the road two days earlier. Express photo by Travis Purser

Sun Valley resident Cecily Nicolai, 61, died after the 1993 Range Rover she was driving careened off Trail Creek Road and plummeted 385 feet down a steep slope on Memorial Day.

Chief Sheriff’s deputy Gene Ramsey said Nicolai left a suicide note at her Sun Valley home on Spur Lane. She also left behind her antidepressant medication and bank checks, so her bills could be paid.

Ramsey said her son Henry Nicolai found the wreckage and his mother’s body June 1 after first searching for her at Galena Pass. It is not clear whether there was any indication that Nicolai had revealed plans to drive off a high mountain road.

Nicolai apparently was driving west at about 50 mph when she apparently veered off the embankment. Her Range Rover became airborne for about 100 feet and, upon impact with the rocks below, cart-wheeled another 285 feet. Nicolai was ejected from the vehicle before it came to rest against a tree.

Ramsey said Nicolai, who suffered a fractured skull, did not die from the impact.

"We found places she had crawled," he said. "We believe she died 12 hours after the accident," from exposure.

Nicolai’s body was found about 50 feet from the shattered vehicle and recovered at about 4 p.m. the day after the crash.

Last Wednesday, three workers for Dick York’s Auto Service and deputy Jamie Shaw spent three hours using three pieces of heavy machinery to haul the vehicle back up to the road and move it to an impound yard.

The Range Rover owner’s insurance would probably pay for the work, Ramsey said. "People still have some responsibility to remove their vehicle."

Ramsey said one vehicle goes off Trail Creek every two or three years, but usually nobody is in it. He attributed most of the events to improperly set emergency brakes and to intentional ditching by thieves.

It is not possible to install guard rails on Trail Creek, he said, because avalanches would destroy them.

Nicolai previously appeared in the news in November 1999 when a gas explosion destroyed her recently purchased home in Elkhorn. She filed a suit against Intermountain Gas Co. in February, but settled out of court.

A source close to the family also said that she had been suffering from cancer for many years.

In April 1999, she divorced her husband Theodore Nicolai, courthouse records state.

The family held a private funeral at the Ketchum cemetery.

An obituary appears on page A28 of the printed edition of the Idaho Mountain Express.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.