Car Drifts Across Center Lane, Hits Two Others


Police say seat belts kept injuries minor in a three-vehicle crash Sunday afternoon near the Beeline and Bonita Street.

"It's amazing there weren't worse injuries," said Payson Police Officer David Vaughn. "I'm a proponent of seat belts. Seat belts do save lives. They keep people from injury and trauma. You never know when someone's going to cross that center line."

A car driven by a 35-year-old Payson woman who lost consciousness while driving, crossed the center passing lane on the South Beeline and crashed into two other cars Sunday at about 3 p.m.

Payson Fire Department and Canyon State Ambulance personnel took four people, including a 4-year-old Globe girl, to Payson Regional Medical Center with minor injuries.

Among the injured was the Payson woman, Diana Charle, who was not fully conscious at the scene of the accident and did not recall the incident later.

Vaughn said a fourth car was involved in the accident when debris from the collision damaged its windshield.

According to Vaughn, Charle was heading north on the Beeline Highway when she blacked out. "She suffers from asthma and couldn't breathe," he said. "She couldn't get any air. She didn't regain full consciousness until she awoke in the hospital. She cut the inside of her lip and that's it."

Vaughn said the injuries in the accident would have been much more severe if people had not been wearing their seat belts.

Jacque Combs, 44, of Mesa had just left the intersection of Bonita and Beeline and was heading south.

"There were no skid marks at all," Vaughn said. "Charle apparently drifted across the center turning lane into the oncoming traffic. She collided with the left side of Combs' car and caved it in on the left side."

Charle's late-model Ford sedan careened off Combs' Buick.

Thomas Ochoa, 20, of Globe was also heading south on the Beeline Highway with his 4-year-old daughter, Ashley Ozeata, and another passenger, Steve McConnell, in a Chevy 1/2-ton truck.

"Ochoa saw what was happening in front of him and slowed to about five miles an hour," Vaughn said. "Charle continued north and drifted into Ochoa's lane, hitting him in the left center of the truck. Both vehicles were demolished.

"At the impact, debris from the collision flew into another truck driven by Charles Buccino, 29, of Mesa."

While Payson firefighters attempted to calm the young girl, Ochoa stood by trying to comfort her. He said nothing about his own pain.

Vaughn said Ochoa was the most severely injured, suffering a chipped shin bone. "He showed no sign of pain at the scene. That is a father's love for his daughter -- to withhold that pain so that she would be able to survive this mentally and emotionally."

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