Friday, August 9, 2013

Valley mourns loss of accident victim

Well-known philanthropist Bonni Curran dies while cycling

Express Staff Writer

Jenny Busdon, a longtime friend of Dr. Bonni Curran, places a rose at a makeshift memorial on Main Street in Ketchum where Curran died in a traffic accident late Tuesday afternoon. Photo by Roland Lane

    Ketchum resident Dr. Bonni Curran was killed Tuesday at a spot on Main Street in Ketchum where a flower garden extends into what would have otherwise been roadway. The spot, about 25 feet long and just south of the intersection of Main and Fourth streets, leaves someone riding a bicycle only a foot or so away from vehicle traffic.
    For reasons not entirely known, Curran lost control of her bicycle at that spot, tipped over and was run over by a trailer being pulled by a dump truck. Blaine County Sheriff Gene Ramsey said she succumbed to her injuries at the scene of the accident.
    Curran was a medical doctor but did not practice locally. Instead, she made frequent trips overseas to provide medical care to people in impoverished countries. She was involved in the arts in the Sun Valley area, donated money to various nonprofit organizations and is described by people who knew her as a very special person.
    “We all talk a lot about what an exceptional place we live in, but that’s because of exceptional people like Bonni, who recognized they have been blessed in their lives and have chosen to give back,” said Kristin Poole, artistic director of the Sun Valley Center for the Arts.
    The accident occurred at about 4 p.m. Tuesday. Preliminary reports from the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office indicated that the accident occurred on Fourth Street, which had recently been resurfaced and still had loose gravel on it. However, Ramsey corrected that information Wednesday and said that both Curran and the dump truck were northbound on Main Street and that loose gravel on Fourth Street was not a factor in the accident.
    The dump truck was driven by 59-year-old Steven Stroud of Gooding. Ramsey said the accident remains under investigation, but it appears that there was nothing Stroud could have done to prevent what happened.
    The sheriff said Stroud was stopped, along with other traffic, at the crosswalk on Main Street on the south side of Fourth Street waiting for a pedestrian to cross. Curran, on her bicycle, was approaching the crosswalk and slowing down because of the situation. When the crosswalk was clear, Stroud began pulling forward. At that point, Curran reached the narrow spot in the road at the flower garden, lost control of her bicycle and tipped over into the path of the dump truck’s trailer.
    “The witnesses said she was riding close to the curb, and that she started to wobble as she reached a storm drain and that she fell into the path of the dump truck,” Ramsey said.
    Numerous police and emergency response units sped to the scene of the accident. In addition to Ketchum police, officers from the Sheriff’s Office and Sun Valley assisted with traffic control and investigating what happened.
    Emergency responders covered Curran’s body with a white sheet and kept it lifted high above her to prevent a crowd that gathered from seeing her injuries.
    A makeshift memorial, consisting of cards and flowers, has been built at the scene of the accident.
    Funeral arrangements are being handled by Wood River Chapel but no services have yet been scheduled.
    Curran, 56, is survived by her husband, Peter Curran, two teenage daughters, Cody and Jessie, and many close friends.
    “She was just one of the people I looked up to the most in the world,” said Kathy Wygle, executive director of nexStage Theatre in Ketchum.
    Curran was a founder of the theater and served on its board of directors. She and her husband were philanthropists, often donating funds to charitable organizations. She served on the board of directors of the Sun Valley Center for the Arts and was active in raising funds to assist women in Africa and with the Wood River Women’s Charitable Foundation.
    “Her bright mind, her sense of humor and her commitment to service is a tremendous loss,” the Sun Valley Center for the Arts wrote in a statement to the Idaho Mountain Express.
    “I’ve known her for a long time and she was one of the smartest, most educated women I know,” said friend Teri Szombathy. “She was a diamond in the rough. She went all around the world helping people. She was very giving with herself and her money and her time. She was a very charitable person.”

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