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Physicians, Firefighters Offer Tips for Avoiding the Recent Plague of Accidents
Sunday, July 4, 2021


A spate of deadly accidents on Highway 75 south of Bellevue has prompted St. Luke’s emergency physicians and local firefighters to issue a plea to the public to pay more attention to their driving.

Doctors and firefighters signed a letter noting the increase in serious accidents and offering suggestions for preventing additional accidents.

“We are here to take care of you but would much rather see members of our community and visitors on the trails or in the grocery store!” they wrote.

Added the Blaine County Sheriff’s Department: “We are in the 100 Deadliest Days of Summer and we are seeing far too many accidents caused by driver error.”

Accidents in just a week’s time killed three people and sent others to Boise and Idaho Falls hospitals in critical condition.

  • The latest accident involved a two-vehicle crash south of Bellevue on the afternoon Saturday, June 26, in which a Hansen man driving a 2015 Volkswagen Passat in the southbound lane crossed into the northbound lane striking a northbound 2020 Toyota 4Runner with three people from Illinois.

    Flora Lovejoy described watching as an air ambulance landed on the roof of St. Luke’s Wood River and another landed in the parking lot to transport the occupants of the Toyota to Boise. The driver and passenger in the Passat died of their injuries.

  • Just four days earlier an 18-year-old from Twin Falls drove his 2004 Honda off the northbound side of the highway, overcorrected and crossed both lanes of traffic, rolling multiple times off the south side.

    His two passengers were transported to Boise and Idaho Falls in critical condition.

  • That same afternoon a Buhl man on a Harley Davidson motorcycle tried to pass two vehicles waiting to make a left-hand turn at Fifth and Main in Ketchum when he collided with a GMC Yukon already traveling in the right lane.
  • And a Shoshone driver lost control of her vehicle near the Richfield canal when she tried to pass several cars, failing to see an oncoming truck in the southbound lane.
  • The other fatality occurred on June 19 south of Bellevue when a southbound Orem, Utah, man was killed after driving his Toyota Highlander across the center line sideswiping a U-Haul truck. Attempting to avoid the collision, a Jeep driven by a Shoshone man also sideswiped the U-Haul truck, crashing into a barbed-wire fence.

Traffic in around Ketchum has been just as crazy with cars weaving in their lane, keeping other drivers guessing with their slowing down-speeding up practices and passing other cars in narrow crowded streets like that next to The Argyros.

Officials say there isn’t one particular reason for the crashes but that factors include cell phones, inattentiveness, impairment and drowsiness. But there are some things all drivers can do, the letter from the doctors and firefighters said:

Before you get on the road:

  • Always wear your seatbelts
  • Consider putting your phone on “do not disturb” mode while driving, use Bluetooth technology or put your phone where you cannot see, hear or reach it.Many of us have witnessed drivers holding their phone and the steering wheel or even looking down.It only takes a second for an accident to occur and you may not even be moving fast. Multi-tasking is a myth, the area of the brain that processes moving images decreases by up to 1/3 when listening or talking on the phone.
  • Always drive with your headlights on, a car is visible for nearly four times the distance with its headlights on.

Safe Driving Habits:

  • Always use your turn signals.
  • Pay attention to all signs
  • When stopping at a stop sign, spell S-T-O-P to yourself before proceeding. Always turn your head to look left, then right, straight ahead, then left again before proceeding.
  • When a light turns green, look left, then right, straight ahead, then left again before proceeding through the light. Notice all vehicles and ensure that someone else is not going to run the light.
  • Watch for cyclists and pedestrians! Our valley is full of residents and visitors alike that enjoy the outdoors and may be distracted.Keep an eye out for them on roads, crosswalks and in parking lots.
  • Be patient. Honking, driving aggressively, or weaving through traffic can cause dangerous distractions and crashes. We have all experienced this a lot lately.
  • Scan ahead for wildlife.Keep your eyes moving. Notice what is happening on the sides of the road and check behind you through your mirrors every 6-8 seconds.


  • Obey speed limits and appropriately for the road conditions. How many times has someone sped by you only to end up one car in front of you at a stoplight? As speed goes up, the survival rate in crashes goes down. Going over the speed limit or too fast for conditions accounts for nearly a third of all roadway fatalities.
  • Leave early. Plan to arrive 10 minutes before the appointed time. Speeding does not increase your ability to arrive on time. Rather it only increases your chances of not arriving at all.


     Focus on the road.  There are so many distractions in and out of the car, the kids, the phone, the touch screen technology, people watching, and more. Driving distracted is as dangerous as driving impaired.

  • Never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Alcohol and other drugs impair judgment and reaction time. There is no safe limit for drinking before driving.
  • Prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs may cause dizziness, sleepiness and/or slow reaction time. If your medication carries a warning, have someone else drive or use other transportation.
  • Do not drive fatigued. Take regular breaks, get another driver to relieve you or get off the road and find a safe place to rest.

“Together, we can eliminate preventable deaths,” the letter said.  “Taking sensible precautions like buckling up, avoiding distractions and never driving impaired will not only help avoid a trip to the Emergency Department, it can save your friends, neighbors and even you.”

Signed by:

St. Luke’s Wood River Emergency Physicians - Drs Terry Ahern, Brock Bemis, Malie Kopplin, Terry O’Connor, Deb Robertson, Brent Russell, Keith Sivertson and Jim Torres.

St. Luke’s Wood River Emergency Department nurses and staff

Blaine County Fire Chiefs Association

Richard Kimball Carey Fire Department; Mike BaledgeHailey Fire Department; Bill McLaughlin – Ketchum Fire Department; Taan Robrahn - Sun Valley Fire Department; Ron Bateman - Wood River Fire & Rescue; Amy Klingler - Salmon River Clinic / Stanley Ambulance and Terry O’Connor, MD – Director, Blaine County Ambulance & EMS




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