Car Plunges Down Ravine, Driver Injured

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A local woman was injured Wednesday when her car plunged 100 feet into a ravine off Highway 87 near Ox Bow Hill.

Witnesses at the scene said the driver overcorrected and lost control, sending the car plunging down the steep ravine.

Payson Fire Department Battalion Chief Guy Austin said the driver told paramedics that her two children were in the car.

"We haven't seen any signs that there were other passengers," Austin said. "She appears to have a head injury and that is not uncommon -- maybe she just dropped them off at school or day care."

Department of Public Safety officer Bill Murphy searched the area for any signs of the children.

"The car rolled once and we searched the areas where the children might be," Murphy said. "We found nothing -- no clothes or toys or any signs that the children might have been in the car."

Gila County Sheriff's Sgt. Craig Smith also was on the scene, assisting rescue crews.

"The last I heard through DPS is that when they put her on the helicopter she remembered that she had dropped her oldest off at school," Smith said. "With help through the police department we contacted the grandma and found that (the driver) lives in Jake's Corner. We contacted them down there and the other child was with a family member. There was no one else in the car.

"I think it was her head injury that caused her misconception of where the children were."

Rescue crews carried the woman up the ravine and transported her to the top of the hill where a helicopter was waiting to transport her to the hospital.

According to Murphy, the driver is in good condition.

"She was held for observation at Scottsdale Osborne," Murphy said. "Her injuries were mainly lacerations and contusions -- injuries related to rolling 100 feet down a cliff."

Officers at the scene said there were no signs that drugs or alcohol played a part in the accident.

Murphy emphasized for the public, "The main cause of these kinds of accidents are inattention and excessive speed."

The driver's family had also relocated to a different residence, which made it difficult to track down the family and the whereabouts of the children.

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