An 18-year-old woman died Tuesday after her car was struck by a runaway utility trailer on U.S. Highway 95.
Kathryn G. Soltau of Coeur d'Alene was driving north on Highway 95 just south of Mica Bay at about 8:30 a.m. As her 1999 Pontiac Grand Am rounded a curve, it struck the runaway trailer head-on, according to Idaho State Police.
The trailer had detached from a southbound lift truck driven by Fred Ritzheimer, 41, of Coeur d'Alene. The truck, registered to Pro Set Trailer Erectors, was hauling two welders, an oxygen tank and an acetylene tank, the ISP said.
Trooper Rick Yeend said the curve in the highway sent the detached trailer into the path of Soltau's car. She tried unsuccessfully to avoid hitting the trailer by driving onto the highway's shoulder, Yeend said.
A fire crew from Mica-Kidd Island was first to respond to the scene and found Soltau unconscious. Then, Coeur d'Alene and Kootenai Fire District personnel extracted her from the car and rushed her to Kootenai Medical Center. She died several hours later, ISP said.
Fuel from the larger of the two welding machines leaked into near- by Mica Creek, but crews worked quickly to clean it up. The amount of fuel that leaked into the creek was minimal, Yeend said.
Sherry Mundt, one of the first emergency workers at the scene, said Tuesday's wreck wasn't the first she's seen on that stretch of Mica Hill.
"This was a freak accident," Mundt said. "This is a cursed place down here."
Highway 95 is notorious for its dangerous curves and narrow lanes. Soltau is the 20th person to die this year on the highway. Last year, 24 people had died in accidents on the highway by September.