Deadly Rollover Claims Life Of Payson Man

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A vehicle rollover on Highway 260 near Little Green Valley killed a local man and left another in serious condition Saturday evening.

William D. Wardell, 66, Payson, died at the scene as a result of blunt force trauma, Department of Public Safety Sgt. John Whetten said.

The passenger, Robert L. Slover, 68, Payson, was flown to Maricopa Medical Center and is being treated for internal injuries and facial lacerations.

Whetten said the men were returning to Payson from Young around 7 p.m. when the pickup truck believed to be driven by Slover, went off the side of the road, spun around, went off the other side of the road and hit a tree.

"They were both ejected out the rear window of the pickup because the truck slid around backwards and hit a tree," Whetten said. "They were not wearing seat belts."

Whetten said Wardell landed face down in a nearby creek.

"We are waiting for the results of an autopsy, but he may have died of asphyxiation," Whetten said.

The sergeant said there were indications that both men had been consuming alcohol prior to the accident.

"We believe from our investigation and from speaking with witnesses that alcohol was involved," Whetten said.

"We have impounded the car and are continuing our investigation."

DPS Spokesman Frank Valenzuela said Slover's injuries have been determined to be non-life threatening, but he remains in the hospital.

"We believe (Slover) was the driver," Valenzuela said. "We are conducting forensic testing on the truck that will show conclusively who was driving."

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