Truck Hits Stage Meant For Rodeo Parade Judges

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A one-vehicle accident Friday afternoon that destroyed the stage meant to be used to judge entrants in the Payson Rodeo parade. The accident backed up traffic for almost an hour on the Beeline Highway.

The judging stage that had been set up on the highway just north of Forest Drive ended up broken into two large pieces.

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Payson firefighters and paramedics tend to Aaron Bradford Friday evening after his truck collided with the judging stage of the Payson rodeo parade on Beeline Highway.

Payson Police Commander Don Engler said police received numerous 911 calls about the accident at 4:47 p.m.

Engler said a commercial pickup truck, driven by Aaron Bradford, 24, was traveling southbound on Highway 87 when he veered to the left, crossed the curb and struck the stage.

The truck careened off the stage and ended up striking a parked semi trailer.

Bradford was flown to Scottsdale Osborn with substantial, but not life-threatening, injuries. Witnesses said Bradford was able to crawl out of the vehicle on his own before paramedics arrived.

Resident Billy Schulte, who observed the accident, said it appeared the driver of the pickup truck fell asleep at the wheel before veering left and hitting the stage without braking.

Engler said police are hesitant in making a ruling that the driver was asleep at the time of the crash.

"We still need to interview the driver," the police commander said.

Schulte said the impact caused the stage to break apart with one part going across the street in between vehicles that were traveling on the Beeline Highway.

He said it took less than 10 seconds for the stage to make its way across the street, and added that it was extremely lucky that it did not hit any other cars.

Adam Tucker, another witness to the crash, said he did not see the impact, but looked up when he heard it.

"I saw the stage rolling across the street," Tucker said. "I saw the pickup truck crash into the semi."

Engler said the cause of the accident is still under investigation as police have not yet been able to interview Bradford because of the injuries he suffered in the crash.

-- To reach Michael Maresh call 474-5251 ext. 112 or e-mail mmaresh@payson.com.

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