Crash Kills Driver

Storm prevented medical evacuation of 88-year-old man

Helicopter crew loading a patient to be flown to the Valley for treatment.

Helicopter crew loading a patient to be flown to the Valley for treatment. |

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An 88-year-old man from southern Arizona died Sunday night when he lost control of his truck on a rain-slick highway and crashed north of Payson.

Harold L. Miller, of Ajo, died at Payson Regional Medical Center sometime after he wrecked a mile north of the Tonto Natural Bridge turnoff on Highway 87. The rainstorm prevented his transport to a Valley trauma center on a medical helicopter.

The hospital did not disclose when when the man died, but firefighters said the man was alive and conscious when they pulled him from the mangled truck just after 10 p.m.

Miller was driving southbound in a Ford half-ton pickup truck when he lost control of the truck for unknown reasons, running off the right side of the roadway.

“The driver overcorrected and crossed the center line, crossed into the northbound lane and hit the embankment, which caused damage to the passenger side,” said a Department of Public Safety spokesperson.

There are conflicting reports whether Miller was wearing a seat belt. DPS said Miller was not, while the Pine-Strawberry Fire Department said they removed the belt when they arrived.

Pine-Strawberry Fire Chief David Staub said firefighters could communicate with Miller when they arrived.

Due to his significant injuries, paramedics wanted to have Miller airlifted to a trauma center, but Native Air said it could not fly north to Flagstaff or south to the Valley due to weather.

Pine-Strawberry paramedics took him to PRMC where he later died.

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