At 2:16 a.m. Tuesday, a minivan carrying five local residents went off the northbound highway entering Payson, rolled down an embankment, and crashed into a mobile home. The impact knocked the home off its foundation and ejected two passengers, killing one who was pronounced dead at the scene.
Preliminary investigation indicates that the 18-year-old driver may have fallen asleep.
"The driver told responding officers she thinks she fell asleep at the wheel," Lt. Don Engler of the Payson Police Department said. "But we've got a lot more investigating to do."
According to police reports, Lydia Cobb, 48, was killed in the accident after being ejected from the 1990 Dodge minivan. Margaret Rogers, 42, also was ejected and airlifted by Native Air to Scottsdale Healthcare where she was admitted to intensive care.
The driver, Evette Cobb, was transported to Payson Regional Medical Center where she was treated and released. Two children (both girls), age 1 and 2 also were taken to PRMC. The 1-year-old was treated and released. The 2-year-old was later airlifted to a trauma center. Her condition was unknown at press time.
All occupants were Payson residents.
According to Engler, the use of car seats and seat belts was a deciding factor in the severity of the injuries.
"Both the children were in car seats and the adult driver was wearing her seat belt," Engler said.
"Clearly, this made a difference," he said.
The vehicle was traveling northbound on Highway 87 just at the curve coming into Payson when it crossed the southbound lanes and broke through a metal fence surrounding the Gateway Mobile Home Park at 1107 S. McLane Road.
The residents of the mobile unit were not home at the time.
"Water lines broke when the home was knocked off its foundation," Engler said. "Besides the damage you see on the outside, water also caused extensive damage inside."
Debris from the minivan was scattered throughout the area including a cell phone, which landed on the roof of the mobile home.