Thursday, September 23, 2010

Loose trailer flips 4Runner

Journal/Hope Nealson
A Toyota 4Runner with Oregon plates was involved in a rollover north of Cortez off U.S. Highway 491 Tuesday around 4 p.m. The unidentifed passenger, whose condition was unknown at the time of the accident, was taken to Southwest Memorial Hospital.

Journal/Hope Nealson
An unidentifed woman is carried from the scene of a rollover her Toyota 4Runner, with Oregon plates, was involved in north of the Cortez Livestock Auction off U.S. Highway 491 about 4 p.m. Tuesday. Witnesses said a trailer came loose and crashed into her vehicle, causing it to flip, end over end, into the ditch next to the opposite lane of traffic.

8/3/2010 5:50:00 PM

Hope Nealson
Journal Staff Writer

A woman was ejected from her Toyota 4Runner north of Cortez on Tuesday when a farm implement pulled by an oncoming Dodge Ram 3500 pickup truck came loose and collided with the vehicle, causing it to roll and eject the woman before landing on top of her.

"The farm implement collided with the left-front corner of the engine compartment area and basically from there it opened up the Toyota 4Runner. It took the driver's door, the roof and the rear hatch door completely off the vehicle as it was traveling around the left side of the vehicle," Colorado State Patrol Trooper Joshua Boden said.

It took four minutes for an ambulance to arrive at the scene near mile marker 30 about 3:55 p.m., Boden said.

The ambulance transported the driver, Feryl Laney, to Southwest Memorial Hospital in Cortez, where she was prepped and transported via CareFlight to St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction.

"She suffered serious bodily injury from the crash as far as I know," Boden said Wednesday. "I called about 1 a.m. before I went off duty, and she was stabilizing in the ICU in Grand Junction."

Laney was listed in serious condition at St. Mary's Hospital on Wednesday afternoon.

Laney, who is based in Oregon but travels the country working for youth groups, was driving in the southbound lane of U.S. Highway 491 when her vehicle was stuck by a farm implement "made of pretty heavy gauge steel" that had disconnected from behind a pickup driven by a Basin Co-op employee, Boden said.

The implement strayed from the northbound lane into Laney's southbound lane, causing her 4Runner to spin counterclockwise from the impact, across the northbound lane, rolling 56 feet before landing on her leg.

"Ms. Feryl was ejected completely from the vehicle as it rolled and collided with the fence at a storage area," Boden said. "The vehicle continued traveling through the fence where it struck the security gate and landed on top of Ms. Feryl."

Montezuma County Sheriff Gerald Wallace said there was quite a bit of damage when he arrived on the scene about 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Firefighters from the Cortez and Lewis-Arriola departments responded, along with the Colorado State Patrol and the Montezuma County Sheriff's Office.

"It was one of the fertilizer trailers you hook behind your tractor being towed," he said. "It did hit the lady's vehicle, and she was trapped underneath the vehicle for a little while until she was released by firefighters."

Boden said the fertilizer implement is not technically considered a trailer, even though it looks like a trailer and has the design of a trailer. Because it's an agricultural machine - a fertilizer spreader - it's not classified as a vehicle and therefore different laws apply.

"Being a farm implement, it throws a kink in things," he said. "How we define vehicles and define objects affects if there is a federal regulation or state law that was violated."

The name of the driver of the Dodge Ram 3500 pickup truck pulling the implement in the northbound lane of Highway 491 when the connection came loose will not be released until charges are filed, Boden said. No drugs or alcohol were involved, Boden added.

The vehicle had extensive damage, Wallace said.

"It was quite a mess out there," he said. "I've not seen a Toyota 4Runner that was destroyed that bad in a long time. The roof and the tailgate were on the west side of the road, and the vehicle ended up on the east side."

In the impact, the implement lost the front axle and a tire that rolled through the same pathway as Laney, striking a parked, unattended camper trailer. A northbound Ford F-250 pickup truck traveling behind the farm implement was also damaged from debris that came off the vehicle, Boden said.

Ronda Griffith, of Cortez, was following her friend home after work traveling north on Highway 491, passing the Cortez Livestock Auction, when she saw the oncoming vehicle fly across the road in front of her friend's car.

"There was stuff flying everywhere," she said. "A few more seconds and she would have crashed right into you," she said to her friend, Glenda Alexander, also of Cortez.

Alexander said she saw the trailer come loose and the car flip in front of her.

"The car was flying across the road, end over end," Alexander said. "It threw her out and landed on her leg."

Alexander said she immediately pulled over, called 911 and rushed to the vehicle, where an emergency medical technician from Utah who had been driving behind Laney tended to her, asking her questions.

"At first she was just moaning. Then she started answering the questions," Alexander said. "The EMT asked her if she had on her seat belt, and she said she did."

Considering how severely the vehicle was torn apart, whether or not Laney was wearing her seat belt is a moot point, Boden said.

"It ripped up the B-post that holds her seat belt," he said.

Reach Hope Nealson at

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