Valley accident kills 1, sends 3 to hospital |

Valley accident kills 1, sends 3 to hospital

Maggie O'Neill
Shannon Litz/Tribune News Service East Fork Fire and Paramedics District work to help two people trapped in a car that was part of a three-car accident in the southbound lanes of Highway 395 near Airport Road on Monday.

MINDEN – A northbound car that witnesses described as going airborne through a median on Highway 395 collided with another car killing the lone occupant in the southbound lane and sending three others to the hospital.

The accident happened at about 1:10 p.m., near the Airport Road turnoff and closed both lanes of Highway 395 for at least two hours. Metal debris, pieces of plastic and shattered glass covered about fifty yards of the highway.

Two helicopters airlifted two victims to Washoe Medical Center, while a third victim was transported by ambulance to Carson-Tahoe Hospital. All are in critical condition, according to the Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Michael Primeaux. A third vehicle was involved with the victim suffering minor injuries.

The hood and roof were crushed in on the driver’s side of the dead person’s car, a white Ford Escort, where the victim was dead at the scene.

It is not clear whether the northbound car – a white Audi with three female passengers, landed on or drove into the Ford Escort after landing. But it is clear, according to witnesses, that the Audi was airborne.

One witness said she saw the car go into the air after it spun 360-degrees on the pavement and then flipping while it was in the air.

“The driver lost control northbound on highway 395, went off the road and into the median,” said Addi Birdwell of Las Vegas who saw the accident. “It caught air and did a whole corkscrew.”

More than a dozen emergency personnel worked to extract the three women from the two-door car. Two were taken by helicopter and one by ambulance to hospitals. The car also hit another southbound vehicle, a Ford Bronco, driven by Gardnerville resident Chris Buchanan.

He suffered minor injuries and was alert at the accident scene and filling out a report.

Witness John Torrico of Gardnerville was in a southbound vehicle when the accident occurred. He went to the car to help the women. The female driver was not breathing, but he was reassured by the other two women who were talking.

“The driver wasn’t saying anything,” he said. “And then she started breathing.”

Lori Edwards of Gardnerville was also in the southbound lane when she saw the accident. Like Birdwell, she didn’t see the Escort land, but she did see the vehicle up in the air.

“It was pretty close,” she said. “All of a sudden you saw dirt and stuff flying in the air. My heart just sunk and I thought, ‘Oh no.’ “

Orange cones set up on Highway 395 diverted southbound traffic onto Airport Road. Northbound traffic was backed up but continued at a slow pace. Metal debris, pieces of plastic and shattered glass covered about 50 yards of Highway 395.

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