Investigators say they still don’t know why a Pine woman lost control driving into town Tuesday afternoon, causing a horrific four-vehicle collision on Highway 87.
All they know for now is that Chelsea Schwanbeck, 27, lost control and crossed the center line roughly nine miles north of town, hitting three vehicles, including a motor home.
She was taken to the hospital in serious condition and as of Wednesday was still in a Valley hospital’s intensive care unit, according to the Department of Public Safety.
DPS investigating officer Jimmy Oestmann said because of Schwanbeck’s condition, they hadn’t yet interviewed her.
It was just after noon, when Schwanbeck’s gold Ford Taurus heading southbound sideswiped a motor home, then a white Chrysler Pacifica driving behind it and finally a white pickup head-on. The driver of the Pacifica was reportedly following her husband in the motor home.
The impact threw the white Chevy truck on its side and nearly ripped off the front end of the Taurus, the wheels, bumper and various car parts littering the highway and drainage ditch.
The passenger compartment of the Taurus crushed around Schwanbeck.
Stunned motorists stopped and looked on as firefighters used the Jaws of Life to extricate Schwanbeck while the driver of the pickup was able to crawl out on his own. An ambulance took him to the Payson hospital where he was treated and released. The other two drivers did not need medical attention. None of the vehicles had passengers.
Oestmann said he spoke with a relative of Schwanbeck’s Wednesday who said she was headed to Payson.
It took some time for DPS to figure out Schwanbeck’s identity because they could find no purse or identification in the car. Using papers in the car, officers determined her name and ran it through the system to get contact information.
Police closed the highway for 1.5 hours. They opened one lane at about 2 p.m. and all lanes at around 2:40 p.m.
DPS Sgt. Erik Axlund said it is unclear why Schwanbeck lost control of her car.