Beeline Crashes Injure 3

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by Mike Burkett

roundup staff reporter

Two accidents on the Beeline Highway occurred within a few hours and miles of each other Thursday one involving a Chevy Suburban pulling a 30-foot travel trailer, the other a motorcycle. Three people involved in the accidents were sent to hospitals.

The driver of the 1984 Suburban, 83-year-old James Lawton of Sun Lakes, was southbound on Ox Bow Hill at milepost 241.6 when his tires edged off the road's shoulder at about 9:45 yesterday morning.

"He came back on the road and overcorrected," Department of Public Safety Officer Bernadette Koren said. "The whole rig the Suburban and the trailer spun counter-clockwise and flipped over into the median."

The Suburban rolled full-circle a single time, landing upright, while the trailer tipped over on its right side.

When clean-up crews arrived and attempted to turn the trailer upright, "it just fell to pieces," DPS Sgt. John Whetten said.

Because both overturned vehicles came to a stop in the right lane, traffic on the Beeline was not interrupted at any time, Koren said.

Lawton was flown by helicopter to Scottsdale Healthcare-Osborn, and his wife, Elizabeth, 88, was taken to Payson Regional Medical Hospital for X-rays, Koren said.

"At the point that I left them, (all that had been established was that) they had lacerations and contusions, but nothing which seemed life-threatening," she said.

A few hours later, at about 12:15 p.m., motorcyclist Richard Calvin Johnson, 46, was headed northbound on the Beeline when he veered into the median and lost control of the bike just above milepost 246.9.

Johnson, a Payson resident, was also flown to Scottsdale Healthcare-Osborn, suffering road rash, facial injuries and possible head injuries, Koren said.

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