Rash Of Crashes Bedevils Firefighters

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Several car crashes both in and out of town this weekend left half a dozen people hospitalized.

The rash of calls had firefighters and medics scrambling, from Corvair Curve south of town, north to the Tonto Natural Bridge turnoff, in town at Rumsey Park and in front of the Jiffy Lube on Highway 260.

The strange cluster of cases involved a right-side-up rollover, a mass of injuries, a remarkably durable pedestrian and a firetruck doubling as an ambulance for a passel of children.

The bulk of the accidents happened Saturday.

The first one

Just after 1 p.m. Saturday, a two-vehicle collision two miles north of the Tonto Natural Bridge turnoff sent a silver Dodge pickup rolling.

The truck landed on its wheels, said Carrick Cook, public information officer with the Arizona Department of Public Safety. The driver of the truck, Patricia Watkins, complained of a head injury and paramedics airlifted her to a Valley hospital. The accident blocked Highway 87 in both directions.

The second one

Half an hour later, officers got calls that two vehicles had collided on Highway 260 in front of the Jiffy Lube.

Lifestar Ambulance sent four units in response to reports the accident had injured as many as seven people, said Charlie Smith, general manager at Lifestar in Payson.

However, only three people were taken to the hospital for injuries.

Clara McMillen reportedly made a left-hand turn on Highway 260 in her eastbound 1996 Dodge and struck a 2005 Chevy half-ton pickup heading west on Highway 260 driven by Henry Servin, said Police Chief Don Engler.

The wreck is still under investigation, but charges are forthcoming, he said.

The third one

At 5:40 p.m., an accident occurred involving a vehicle and a pedestrian.

A 24-year-old man was reportedly walking in Rumsey Park when a 17-year-old driver hit him, throwing the pedestrian for quite a distance. Remarkably, the man was not seriously injured, said Fire Chief Marty deMasi. Officers cited the teen driver for speeding.

The fourth one

The final wreck happened about 6:30 p.m. when a woman lost control of her vehicle at or near Corvair Curve, a steep bend in southbound Highway 87 at milepost 246.

The woman, who had her five children in the vehicle, needed medical attention, but her children were uninjured, deMasi said.

Paramedics took the woman to Payson Regional Medical Center while firefighters took the children to the hospital in the fire truck since “there was no real other way to get them there,” deMasi said.

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