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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

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1/21/2014 11:05:00 PM
UPDATE: Head-on crash closes Cornville Road; one patient flown
A head on collision in the Cornville switchbacks sent one person to the Flagstaff Medical Center Monday afternoon and blocked Cornville Road traffic for hours.  Photography by Vyto Starinskas
A head on collision in the Cornville switchbacks sent one person to the Flagstaff Medical Center Monday afternoon and blocked Cornville Road traffic for hours. Photography by Vyto Starinskas
Verde Valley Fire crews on the call summoned the Angel-3 medical helicopter. A woman reportedly struck the steering wheel and suffered abdominal injuries, according to police scanner reports Monday. Photography by Vyto Starinskas
Verde Valley Fire crews on the call summoned the Angel-3 medical helicopter. A woman reportedly struck the steering wheel and suffered abdominal injuries, according to police scanner reports Monday. Photography by Vyto Starinskas
Initial report: El Camino drives left of center in head-on
CORNVILLE -- The initial Yavapai County Sheriff's Department report shows that 36-year-old Peter Macias of Sedona drove left of center on the Cornville Road switchbacks causing the head-on collision with a Toyota SUV Monday afternoon. Macias was the only occupant in the 1978 GMC El Camino. The Toyota driver Michael Gallegos, 53, had a passenger in the newer Toyota.

Macias was airlifted by Angel-3 to the Flagstaff Medical Center after he was thrown against the steering wheel and complained of pain. He has since been released from the hospital.

Gallegos and his passenger were also released after treatment at the Verde Valley Medical Center.

Traffic was initially blocked during the investigation, but was opened up with a single lane until the wreckage was cleared.

Yavapai Sheriff's deputies continue to investigate the case and evidence and have sent Macias' blood samples to the lab for testing. No charges have yet been filed.

-- Jon Hutchinson



Jon Hutchinson
Staff Reporter


CORNVILLE -- A head-on collision in the Cornville Road switchbacks sent one person to Flagstaff Medical Center Monday afternoon and blocked Cornville Road traffic for hours.

The accident occurred just after 4 p.m. and involved an older model El Camino wagon and a newer Toyota Rav-4 SUV. The west-bound El Camino ended up in the east-bound lane, but it is unclear who was in the wrong lane at the time of the collision, according to Jerry Doerksen, assistant chief for the Verde Valley Fire Dist.

Verde Valley Fire crews summoned the Angel-3 medical helicopter. One patient reportedly struck the steering wheel and suffered abdominal pains and was flown to Flagstaff Medical, said Doerksen.

Two other patients were taken by ground ambulance to Verde Valley medical center.

The Angel-3 medical helicopter used the Verde Santa Fe Golf Course as a landing zone and was in the air before 5 p.m.

Verde Valley Fire had two engines and two ambulances on the fire in addition to sheriff's deputies.

Taylor Waste

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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, January 26, 2014
Article comment by: Daniel White

It does not matter how many laws are established after these kinds of incidents, you simply can not fix or stop stupid people from doing what they do. I have repeatedly observed the seeming mindlessness of drivers on the road, such as those who drive in the passing lane instead of yielding to the right while talking on a cellphone. I have driven on that road for years and have seen some very close calls from drivers hugging the center line while exceeding the speed limits too. Is there an app for that?

Posted: Saturday, January 25, 2014
Article comment by: Ozzie Purch

I haven't seen any other solutions to possibly reduce this problem. More important to correctly affix blame?

Is there any way to make drivers behave responsibly?

What's up with all those white posts along the side, anyway? Maybe they should put those down the middle. Or, I guess you'd rather be protected from hitting the dirt more than from on oncoming vehicle.


Posted: Friday, January 24, 2014
Article comment by: The Goatherder

Hugging and straddling the center line on Cornville road is a very popular pastime among local mouth-breathers. It helps alleviate the tedium of driving home.

Posted: Thursday, January 23, 2014
Article comment by: Take Responsibility

I drove that road for 11 years, before and after it was re-done. People are the cause...period. The road is clearly marked and there is enough room in either lane. Just plain poor driving.

Posted: Thursday, January 23, 2014
Article comment by: Back in My Day

Mingus Union H.S. actually had Drivers Ed. driving practice on that road - What a trip!
Thanks Mr. Harkey!


Posted: Thursday, January 23, 2014
Article comment by: Slater Slater

One accident??? ... at least 5 in the last year alone.

Posted: Thursday, January 23, 2014
Article comment by: Stop making excuses

Come on now!!! The work that was done on the switchbacks was much needed. The lanes are the correct size and the line markings are spot on. The problem is the driver NOT the road NOT the year of his car. Quit trying to point blame at anything else. Driver ERROR. People cross the center line not because there aren't reflectors or the lane is the wrong size it is because the driver screwed up and didn't drive properly. I drive that stretch several times a day as well as my kids and it happens constantly that people can't turn their damn steering wheel to stay in their lane. It is insane. Pure and total laziness. Sit your ass up in your car and take this task seriously. Everybody else driving this road with you is in danger because you can't turn the wheel and stay in your lane. So suck it up buttercup , it is not lane size, markings, road work, dune buggies, old cars, the color of the sky it is your responsibility to keep your car in the proper lane. Drive responsible!!

Posted: Thursday, January 23, 2014
Article comment by: Scott Carmichael

One accident and everyone wants to make new laws. What happened to smaller government?

Posted: Thursday, January 23, 2014
Article comment by: Drew Salman

Drive those vehicles made in earlier times before airbags were common and crash ratings were something few thought about and pay the price in an accident. Anyone else shake their heads at those 'historic vehicle' license plates on heaps that many boomers see as anything but historic? Anything goes in Arizona as far as vehicles with no helmets for motorbikes, broken windshields, no hoods, dune buggies, modified trucks with safety and emission parts removed, ATV's on our roads. The wild (south) west indeed as far as public roads goes.

Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Article comment by: Ozzie Purch

Had I suggested the lack of roadway markings are to blame for head on collisions, that would be silly, among other things. Is that a reason not to have them? It may be more silly to think that testing of drivers would indicate that licensees will act with responsibility. I'm sure that the Driver Handbook explains how to properly proceed through a four-way stop, but from what I have seen there are few drivers who know how to do it. The driver handbooks I have read also explain how to properly make right and left turns (right lane to right lane left lane to left lane), but apparently nobody paid attention to that paragraph. The driving test may or may not indicate that one has studied the Driver Handbook, but is absolutely no predictor that licensed drivers will behave in a safe, courteous, and responsible manner. On the other hand, a sudden cacaphony and vibration resulting from driving over some bumps in the middle of the road might snap some wandering daydreamers back into the reality of what they are doing. Or are those rumble strips along some state and interstate highways just there to catch rainwater?


Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Article comment by: David in Cottonwood

Or perhaps we should start mandating road testing for drivers' licenses every few years that includes driving narrow curvy roads with minimal markings.

If you can't show the common sense nature gave a goffer and stay in what is obviously your lane, you don't get a drivers license. :)

Blaming something like this on inadequate road markings is a little silly.


Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Article comment by: Ozzie Purch

As I sat at a standstill at the top of the Cornville Switchbacks, watching through my rearview mirror as the medical helicopter landed nearby, I already correctly guessed what had happened. I pondered the recent rebuild of this stretch of road. This looks pretty good, I thought to myself as I drove it the first time. Like the shiny adornments on a coffin. They did a pretty good job of marking the edges of the roadway but totally ignored the double-yellow line. Almost every trip up or down this hill I have to dodge someone on the wrong side of the centerline.

Where are the reflector bumps on the centerline? Does anyone else think dots might help keep people on their side of the road? It took a death on Loy Road to get a speed bump. Is that what it is going to take to get this omission corrected?





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