Brother and sister among those named in Tuesday fatalityMar 16, 2017 By Kelli Ameling, Staff Writer
The Wyoming Highway Patrol released the names of the four individuals involved in a Tuesday evening crash that killed two Fremont County teens and a Greybull man.
The fourth person involved, a Riverton man, was later life-flighted but survived the collision.
Officials said Darion Wheeler, 18, of Lander, his sister, Destinee Wheeler, 15, of Hudson, and Paul McEwan, 20, of Greybull, died at the scene of the crash, which took place just before 8:15 p.m. Tuesday on Wyoming Highway 789 about two miles north of Lander.
The three were traveling together northbound in a 2003 Honda Pilot SUV, operated by Darion Wheeler.
"The SUV failed to properly negotiate a left-hand curve in the highway as the vehicle drifted east," WHP public relations Sgt. David Wagener said. "The SUV was overcorrected, sending the SUV into a counter-clockwise spin."
While the vehicle was spinning, it entered the southbound lanes, colliding with a 1993 Chevrolet Silverado driven Brian Rhodes, 42, of Riverton.
Fremont County Coroner Mark Stratmoen confirmed Rhodes had been taken to SageWest Health Care at Lander and then airlifted, but neither Stratmoen nor Wagener had received an update on Rhodes's condition as of noon Thursday.
Excessive speeds and driver inattention are being investigated as contributing factors to the crash, however, Wagener said he did not know yet how fast the vehicles were going.
Darion Wheeler was the only one wearing a seat belt during the crash, but no ejections were reported. The incident initially was reported as a "possible head-on" crash with multiple people involved.
Destinee Wheeler was a sophomore at Lander Valley High School, while her brother Darion Wheeler was a senior.
Fremont County School District 1 Board of Trustees Chairman Brett Berg released a statement regarding the "tragic crash."
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends in this tragic accident," Berg said, noting all three fatalities are a loss and represent a tragic situation for the community.
Signs can be seen throughout the community of Lander and at LVHS in memory of the three lost in the crash.
Students made banners, which hang in the commons area of LVHS, to remember their classmates.
LVHS principal Brad Neuendorf distributed an email March 15 with the subject line "taking care of your son/daughter."
In the message to LVHS families, Neuendorf said the "LVHS family suffered a tragedy" and is grieving, letting parents know the school district is providing resources such as a psychologist and grief management. He also made sure students knew the facts of what happened.
"To say the least the mood here has been somber," the email read. "Please keep in mind as your student comes home from school that they have probably had a long emotional day."
Businesses such as DairyLand also remembered the individuals, with a sign that read "Bow your heads for Des Doozie and Paul."