Accidents Snarl Weekend Traffic

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The holiday weekend brought fun, food and excitement for many travelers, but also long traffic delays and accidents throughout the Rim Country.

On Friday, Highway 87 was backed up starting one mile north of Rye, near milepost 242.5, far into Payson as visitors crammed to get through town and into the wilderness.

The normal congestion was compounded by a hit-and-run accident.

"Traffic was at a dead stop," said DPS Sgt. John Whetten.

The backup started around 3 p.m., peaked at 8 p.m. and had cleared up around 9:30 p.m., Whetten said.

Every Memorial and Labor Day, DPS situates additional deputies near congested areas to warn travelers of impending backups.

"We expect these traffic delays," Whetten said.

Despite warnings, a five-vehicle crash took place on Highway 87 Friday night because of the backup.

A black Chevy Avalanche, with black rims, rear-ended a car, forcing it into another car, which forced a chain reaction, he said.

The driver of the Avalanche drove off, Whetten said. Deputies are still searching for that driver.

Once travelers began heading home on Monday, the situation was reversed. The traffic snarl started to develop around 10 a.m. on Highway 260, causing another congestion-related accident.

Around 10 a.m., amidst heavy backup, two vehicles collided near Tiny's Restaurant on Highway 260.

A mid-size pickup was attempting to enter the Tiny's parking lot when it was broadsided by a Ford Explorer, said Payson Police Chief Don Engler.

Westbound traffic had stopped to let the truck through, but the Explorer, in the curb lane, did not stop and struck the truck as it attempted to cross two lanes of traffic, Engler said.

The drivers from both vehicles and a passenger from the Explorer were taken to the Payson airport where they were transported to Valley hospitals with serious, but non-life-threatening injuries, Engler said.

The passenger in the truck was taken to Payson's hospital with minor injuries.

Traffic was diverted for more than an hour, until the scene was cleared, Engler said.

Also over the weekend, Payson police responded to seven minor accidents around town, Engler said. Most had minor or no injuries.

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