Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bus driver charged in traffic accident

4 people treated and released at St. Luke’s hospital


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

Emergency responders care for a man injured Thursday, March 23, when a Mountain Rides Transportation Authority bus slammed into the rear end of a car on state Highway 75 about two miles north of Hailey. The driver of the bus, identified by police as 59-year-old Pamela Vasquez, has been cited for following too close to another vehicle. Photo by David N. Seelig

The Blaine County Sheriff's Office is placing the blame for a bus-vs.-car accident last week north of Hailey on the driver of a Mountain Rides Transportation Authority bus.

The Sheriff's Office reported Monday that the bus driver, 59-year-old Pamela Vasquez, of Shoshone, has been issued a citation for "following too close."

Four people were injured in the three-vehicle accident, which occurred shortly after 11:30 a.m. Thursday, March 23, about two miles north of Hailey on state Highway 75. The Sheriff's Office reported that all four were treated and released at St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center after being taken there by Wood River Fire & Rescue ambulance.

According to the Sheriff's Office report, the accident occurred when Vasquez, northbound in a white 2011 Mountain Rides 36-foot bus, collided with the rear end of a northbound gold 1999 Toyota Camry driven by Kathleen E. Welch, 49, of Shoshone. The Camry was then pushed into the rear end of a white 1997 Ford van driven by Gerald L. Lager, 61, of Boise, the report states.

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"The crash occurred when the Camry slowed down to allow the Ford van to turn left off the highway and the Mountain Rides bus did not have time to stop," the report states.

Wood River Fire & Rescue reported that it took about 20 minutes to extricate a passenger, identified by police as 32-year-old James Welch, from the Toyota Camry, which suffered extensive damage to its rear end. Welch and the driver, Kathleen Welch, were both transported to St. Luke's.

The Sheriff's Office reported that there were 10 passengers on the bus at the time of the collision. Two of them, identified as Joshua W. Cobb, 37, and Michael D. Burrell, 46, no addresses available, complained of injuries and were also transported to St. Luke's.

Mountain Rides Transportation Authority, which provides bus and van commuter services throughout the Wood River Valley, declined to comment on the accident other than to confirm the identify of the bus driver.

Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




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