Police have released the names of people injured and killed in a terrible head-on collision on Highway 260 last week, but not many details of the events that led to one of the worst crashes in memory — testing the region’s emergency response capacity to the limit.
Randy Morris, 49, of Albert Lea, Minn., died instantly in the crash that injured eight others.
It appears Morris and his wife, Leanne Morris, 48, were heading west on Highway 260 Dec. 29 about 4:30 p.m. in their 2001 Oldsmobile van when the unthinkable occurred near the R-C Boy Scout Camp.
For unknown reasons, Melonie Turley, 48, of Taylor, lost control of her 2005 Honda SUV. She crossed the centerline and collided head-on with the Morrises’ vehicle.
A third vehicle, a 2007 Mercury heading west on 260, apparently couldn’t avoid the wreck, said Bart Graves with the Department of Public Safety.
It is not clear if all nine passengers were wearing seat belts. When firefighters arrived, three remained trapped inside the mangled vehicles. Crews used the Jaws of Life to peel the top off the Honda and get inside the other vehicles.
It is still unclear if anyone was thrown during the crash. Witnesses reported one man was lying on the ground.
Christopher-Kohl’s Fire Chief Rob Jarvis said the scene was one of the worst he had seen.
“Everyone was in shock,” he said.
The number of serious injuries required the use of seven helicopters from around the state, including Globe, Show Low and Phoenix, one of the largest joint rescues to date.
The injured were flown to Valley and Flagstaff hospitals.
Those involved included:
Vehicle No. 1: 2005 Honda from Taylor
Driver: Melonie Turley, 48
Passengers: Garth Turley, 49, Laneah Turley, 8, and Isaac Turley, 18
Vehicle No. 2: 2001 Oldsmobile from Albert Lea, Minn.
Driver: Randy Morris, 49
Passenger: Leanne Morris, 48
Vehicle No. 3: 2007 Mercury from Phoenix
Driver: Timothy Claw, 22
Passengers: Kirston Ashley, 23 and Karter Ashley-Claw, 1