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Seat Belts Save Lives in Rollover Crash Near Laramie

Photo courtesy of Wyoming Highway Patrol

A dramatic rollover crash on the eastbound lane of I-80 near Laramie Tuesday caused several agencies and two helicopters to respond to the scene.  According to Wyoming Highway Patrol officials the two people involved in the crash, a 71-year-old man and a 67-year-old woman, survived thanks to seat belts and airbags.

A release issued by the Wyoming Highway Patrol says that it is believed that the 71-year-old male driver was eastbound on I-80 near mile post 286, when he began to suffer, what is believed to have been, a heart attack or stroke.  WHP investigators believe that the cruise-control was engaged at that point.  The driver lost consciousness, and his wife, a passenger in the vehicle, was not able to gain control of the steering wheel.

The official release describes what is believed to happen next in detail:

“According to eye witnesses on either side of I-80, the McClellan vehicle drifted across I-80 towards the median and there was no evidence that the brakes were ever applied. The Odyssey continued towards a significant fenced wildlife barricade which surrounds an enormous concrete culvert which allows livestock, wildlife and even a rancher’s vehicle to pass underneath the interstate, while protecting traffic on the interstate from animals. The Odyssey struck the southwest corner post and started to drag posts and fencing along as it hurtled towards the first wing wall of the south concrete culvert. In true Dukes of Hazard fashion, the vehicle went airborne across the wide culvert for an estimated 25-30 feet. While the fence material and posts acted as a mechanical parachute to significantly slow the McClellan vehicle, it also accelerated the vehicle into a roll while airborne across the culvert. The top of the vehicle struck the next concrete wing wall, then rolled towards the center of the ditch and flipped upright on its wheels, but now facing the opposite direction.”

The release goes on to say that passersby managed to pull the driver and the lone passenger from the vehicle, fearing fire.  Laramie, Albany County Fire and Rescue; Big Laramie Valley Fire Dept.; Albany County Sheriff’s Dept. and WDOT Employee’s assisted members of the Wyoming Highway Patrol with the crash.  Two Life Flight Helicopters were dispatched to the scene, one from Cheyenne and the other from Casper.  Both victims were flown from the scene to Cheyenne Regional Medical Center in Cheyenne, WY.

I-80 eastbound was closed for 22 minutes for the first helicopter and 42 minutes for the second helicopter as both helicopter’s had to land in the middle of eastbound I-80 next to the crash scene.

The driver and passenger were identified as residents of Overland, Kansas.

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