3 Vehicles, 2 Propane Tanks, 1 Injured


Six people in a multi-vehicle collision south of Buckhead Mesa Wednesday escaped serious injury in an accident that could have been explosive.

Pine-Strawberry Fire Captain Scott Harris said a trailer that jackknifed behind a motor home was hauling two propane tanks.

The Pine-Strawberry Fire Department got the call at 6:17 p.m. shortly after two northbound cars hit the jackknifed trailer that was stopped in the road on Highway 87. The trailer was still attached to a motor home that was off the road.

William Burge, 34, of Payson, was driving a 1984 Camaro. His wife Christy, 34, and 8-year-old son Tim were passengers in the car. Burge said Thursday that he was being closely followed by the car behind him, a 1989 Cadillac driven by Ed Rice, who had a passenger with him.

Burge said the motor home had lost its driveline and jackknifed the little trailer. "We were behind the motor home," he said. "It was hard to see because of the sun. We slowed down and came to the canyon before Buckhead Mesa. I was just going to turn right there because of the sun, but the guy behind us was close. We started going up the grade and the sun blinded us.

"Just as I looked out the window, I saw something grey. What it was, was that little trailer full of stuff and the motor home in the ditch. Just as I saw it, I hit it."

Burge said his car was spun around by the impact and hit again as the second car ran into the trailer and pushed it into him.

"I remember sitting there thinking we're almost to a stop and we survived it," Burge said. "We lost the only vehicle we had."

Burge and his wife and son and the occupants of the second car were not seriously injured. Canyon State Ambulance personnel treated the driver of the motor home, identified as Du Hammil, and took him to Payson Regional Medical Center.

Traffic was completely stopped on the highway for an hour while emergency workers cleared the scene. The northbound lane remained blocked for another hour and traffic was limited to one lane.

"It was kind of a lucky thing," said Harris. "The motor home had two propane tanks -- one was dented."

The investigating officer from the Arizona Department of Public Safety was not available for comment.

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