Witness: Speed a factor in Route 66 crash

Wreck involved students, Mohave County truck

Four local students were injured in this Dec. 3 wreck on Route 66. (RYAN ABELLA/Miner)

Four local students were injured in this Dec. 3 wreck on Route 66. (RYAN ABELLA/Miner)

KINGMAN - The teenage driver of a pickup truck that struck a Mohave County Public Works tractor-trailer Dec. 3 was speeding, according to a witness statement contained in a report from the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

The driver and his three passengers - all students at Lee Williams High School - sustained injuries in the crash, which occurred on a rainy morning on Route 66 and Gordon Drive.

The driver had just obtained his license about a month earlier, according to a report from DPS Officer August Romanski. The boy was driving his grandfather's 2004 Chevrolet Silverado to school after picking up three classmates.

Romanski interviewed the driver, his relatives and passengers, along with public works employee Billy Rackley, who was driving the belly dump.

But it was the statement of witness Jennifer Jenkins that indicates the teen was speeding.

She told Romanski she was driving her children to school and traveling west on Route 66 toward Thompson Avenue. She said the other driver failed to stop at the stop sign at Thompson and she had to take evasive action by changing lanes in order to avoid a collision.

Moments later, Jenkins said, the teen passed her while she was still in the left lane, and that he was driving at "a high rate of speed."

Jenkins said she was traveling the posted 55 mph limit and estimated the student was traveling between 75 and 80 mph - fast enough that she lost sight of the pickup until she rolled up on the scene of the accident.

Rackley told Romanski he was stopped at Gordon Drive and that he saw the Chevrolet approaching and thought he had time to cross the highway. Rackley told Romanski he had crossed the westbound lane "many times" with westbound traffic located where the Chevrolet was and that he believed he had "plenty of time" to safely cross.

Romanski said the teen behind the wheel and his front-seat passenger were apparently wearing their seatbelts, but the two backseat passengers were not wearing theirs. The driver broke his right leg and the front seat passenger sustained a cut to his head, a concussion and a broken right ankle. One of the back seat passengers broke a leg and wrist and suffered ligament damage. The other back seat passenger suffered bleeding in the brain and temporary paralysis. She was not breathing when first responders arrived.

Rackley was uninjured.

The pickup truck struck the belly dump trailer, which is used to haul gravel. It was empty at the time of the collision.

No citation issued

While Romanski notes Jenkins' statement that the teen was driving somewhat recklessly and speeding, he did not cite the young driver. A message left with the DPS office in Kingman was not immediately returned.

Romanski determined the county vehicle was in violation of a handful of regulations, such as an unsecured fire extinguisher and a missing mud flap, but nothing that would have caused the accident.

Neither driver was impaired at the time of the crash.