Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Accident victims’ conditions improve

Sheriff still piecing together details from fatal crash


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

Conditions have been upgraded for four people who were seriously injured in two traffic accidents last week in Blaine County.

All four were transported by emergency helicopter to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise as the result of a fatal accident on U.S. Highway 20 near Stanton Crossing in south Blaine County on Tuesday, Oct. 26, and an injury accident at Timmerman Junction south of Bellevue on Wednesday, Oct. 27.

Timmerman crash

Gregory Cappel, a 53-year-old Bellevue man, was listed in good condition Tuesday at Saint Alphonsus. His condition had been listed as critical immediately after the accident.

Cappel was injured when his east-facing vehicle on Highway 20 was struck by a southbound pickup on state Highway 75 that was driven by James Pickering, 48, of Shoshone. According to the Blaine County Sheriff's Office, Pickering was not seriously injured.

The sheriff's office has said the accident was caused by the driver of a third vehicle, Kenneth Ruzicka, 56, of Boise. According to the sheriff's office, Ruzicka was westbound on Highway 20, stopped at the red light and then proceeded across the intersection. Pickering, according to the sheriff's office, swerved to miss the Ruzicka vehicle and struck the car driven by Cappel instead.

"The driver of the vehicle [Ruzicka] said he did not see the oncoming vehicle," said sheriff's Lt. Jay Davis.

Davis said a citation alleging failure to yield had been written to Ruzicka and was at the sheriff's office on Tuesday waiting for him to come and get it.

Oct. 26 fatality

Conditions were also upgraded at Saint Alphonsus for three people injured in the accident on Oct. 26 that claimed the life of Austin Hennefer, a 15-year-old sophomore at Carey School.

Jeff Mecham, 41, a Carey School teacher and a driver education instructor in the vehicle Hennefer was driving, was listed in good condition Tuesday.

A passenger in the vehicle, 15-year-old Jennifer Mares, also a sophomore at Carey School, has now been released from the hospital.

The driver of the vehicle that collided with the driver education car, Sergio Lopez-Rodriguez, 45, of Gooding, had also been released.

The accident remained under investigation Tuesday. Davis said gathering information was complicated by the fact that all of the witnesses were either deceased or injured.

"It makes it difficult for us to get to them and get information from them," he said. "We're still wrapping up a few things. Hopefully, we can get back to you next week."

To date, the sheriff's office has not released any details about how the vehicles collided or what the cause of the accident was.

Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




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