Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Trail Creek fatality still under investigation

Coroner rules Sun Valley man died from accidental crash


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

The death of a Sun Valley man last week in an SUV plunge from the road up to Trail Creek Summit, east of Sun Valley, remained officially under investigation this week, but authorities are leaning toward the likelihood that the man was distracted and simply lost control of his vehicle.

Blaine County Coroner Russell Mikel said Monday that drug tests on the body of 55-year-old Brian R. Griffin came back negative and that authorities do not suspect a heart attack because there was no indication of heart ailments in Griffin's medical history.

"Right now we're ruling that it is what it appears to be," Mikel said. "We're ruling it to be an accident."

The coroner's office has listed the cause of death as "blunt force trauma to the head and chest."

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Mikel said Griffin was most likely distracted by something when he drove his red 2004 Chevrolet Tahoe off winding and narrow Trail Creek Road, about 6.5 miles east of its intersection with Corral Creek Road.

The accident occurred around 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 24. The Blaine County Sheriff's Office reported last week that Griffin was ejected from the vehicle as it tumbled into the canyon and that his body was recovered about 750 feet down the steep slope from the roadway.

Sheriff's Lt. Jay Davis said Monday that officers are still investigating, but that "we may never know" why Griffin lost control of the vehicle.

Sun Valley police, who assisted at the scene of the accident, reported Monday that the vehicle tumbled about 900 feet, coming to rest in Trail Creek, and that they were not aware of any immediate plans for its recovery.

Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




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