Busy, Tragic Weekend


A slew of calls kept emergency responders busy this weekend in both Pine and Star Valley.

Two women were killed in separate motor vehicle accidents, a man was badly burned after falling into a fire pit, and a hiker required a lift out of Fossil Creek after breaking her ankle.

On Sunday afternoon, Virginia Leamon, 78, of Flagstaff, died after crashing her full-size pickup truck into a tree off Highway 87.

Reportedly on her way from Flagstaff to the Valley, Leamon apparently lost control and hit a pine tree head-on near milepost 276, said investigating officer Jimmy Oestmann with the Department of Public Safety.

Leamon was already dead when officers arrived to investigate the one-car accident.

It is unclear what caused her to lose control of her vehicle, Oestmann said.

On Saturday, Pine-Strawberry Fire Department and the Gila County Sheriff’s Office responded to an ATV accident in Pine about 4 p.m. A medical helicopter flew a woman to the Valley, where she later passed.

Her identity and the event surrounding the wreck were unknown as of press time.

Also on Saturday, a helicopter flew a man to a Maricopa burn center after he fell into an outside fire fire pit. When firefighters arrived, bystanders had put out the flames.

Paramedics cut away the man’s sweatshirt and shirt, revealing burns to 30 percent of his body, including his arms, back, hands and head, said Hellsgate Fire Chief Gary Hatch.

Hatch said it appeared the man had first-degree burns to his left hand and second-degree burns to his right. He had no direct burns on his back, but heat scorched him.

The man admitted to firefighters that he had been drinking when he lost his balance and fell backward into the fire pit, Hatch said.

The man was airlifted from the Payson Airport to the Valley.

Finally, on Friday afternoon, a DPS helicopter airlifted a woman with a broken ankle from the lower end of the Fossil Creek Trail.

Pine-Strawberry Fire Chief David Staub said it was lucky an available DPS helicopter was in the area because it would have been a long, painful ride out of the canyon had crews hand-carried her out on a litter up the trail.


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