Three pre-holiday traffic accidents have left one woman dead, two people injured and at least one person facing possible criminal charges.
A 57-year-old Phoenix man may face charges in the Thursday night death of his girlfriend, 59-year-old Shirley Lea Maynor of Phoenix.
Maynor died at about 10 p.m. when William Fleming lost control of the truck he was driving and it slammed into a tree about a mile north of Payson on Highway 87. Officers said alcohol is a suspected factor in the accident.
According to Department of Public Safety Sgt. John Whetten, Fleming also had a residence in East Verde Estates, and believes that was probably the couple's destination that night.
"At milepost 255.5, heading toward East Verde Estates, I assume, the driver ran off the right side of the road, overcorrected, and came back onto the roadway."
From tracks on the highway, officers were able to determine the 1999 Toyota pickup started to spin counterclockwise, went off the left side of the road and started to roll when it struck a tree. The cab of the truck was crushed on the passenger side, and part of the top.
"She was dead at the scene from massive internal injuries," Whetten said. "He suffered broken ribs on his right side, a broken sternum, severe internal injuries." He was air-evacuated to Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn, and as of Friday morning, was listed in critical condition.
The Beeline Highway was closed for an hour while emergency crews attended to the victims. The highway was open for one-lane traffic for another two hours while crews cleared the wreck.
While the investigation is still ongoing, Whetten said Fleming could face charges of vehicular homicide.
Motorcycle collides with car
Quentin Kemp, 42, of the East Verde area, broke his leg and several ribs when the motorcycle he was driving collided with a car Wednesday at the intersection of Manzanita Road and Highway 260.
According to witnesses, Kemp wasn't wearing a helmet, and was thrown onto the windshield of the car.
Emergency crews responded to the scene shortly after noon and transported Kemp to Payson Regional Medical Center. He was air-evacuated to Scottsdale-Healthcare Osborne in the Valley and underwent surgery the following day to repair his leg.
Payson Police Officer Les Barr said Thursday that Kemp also had a bruised lung, a dislocated hip and some internal injuries. "None of the injuries are life-threatening," he said.
The accident happened when 67-year-old Carol Newkirk of Strawberry, who was driving her car east on Highway 260, turned left on Manzanita.
She didn't see the motorcycle, which was traveling west, and she crossed in front of it, Barr said.
No citations have been issued, but an investigation is still under way.
Hit and run
Police are searching for the blue Saturn sedan that struck a 15-year-old girl Monday morning along the Beeline Highway at McKamey Road.
According to police sources, the teen-ager was riding her in-line skates along the Beeline at about 8 a.m. Monday. The driver of the Saturn was heading west on East McKamey and as he approached the highway, struck the teen.
"Witnesses called in the accident," said Lt. Don Engler of the Payson Police Department. "They said the car had tinted windows, and the driver appeared to be a younger male."
Engler said he believed the girl suffered injuries to her left wrist and right ankle. Fire Department sources, however, say the patient refused treatment at the scene.
Anyone with information about the accident, or a blue Saturn with tinted windows is asked to call the Payson Police Department at 474-5177.