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Driver safe after vehicle slides into creek

Nov 29, 2013 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

A Lander man escaped serious injury when the vehicle he was driving landed upside down in Hornecker Creek.

Officials said John Nygard, 56, was driving his 2009 Honda sedan at about 10:40 a.m. Nov. 21 when he failed to negotiate a corner on Pheasant Run Drive. He lost control of the vehicle, which slid off of the roadway just before the bridge over Hornecker Creek.

"There was ice and snow on the road," Lander Rural Fire Department captain Dalton Sanders said. "He started sliding on a corner, and there happened to be a creek and a bridge there. He jumped the concrete of the bridge and rolled one half time into the creek."

Nygard wasn't injured, but he was unable to get out of his vehicle. Initial reports state he called his wife just after the accident and said "he was upside down in a creek." A passing motorist called officials at about 10:45 a.m. to say water was covering most of the vehicle's windows.

When local firefighters arrived at the scene, they said water was running through the car, and the doors to the vehicle were wedged shut. The water was more than a foot deep in the area.

Officials said they contemplated using a winch to pry the doors open, but Nygard wasn't in the mood to stay put in the creek for too long. Sanders said Nygard had moved to an upright position, but the subject was not protected from the cold creek water.

"He wanted to get out of there quickly -- he was cold and frightened," Sanders said. "So we got him out as quick as we could. (Three) firefighters got in the creek and rocked the car enough to get the door open."

They removed Nygard from the vehicle and transported him to an ambulance to warm up. The man was in the water for about 20 minutes, Sanders said.

Nygard was the sole occupant of the vehicle, and no citations were issued as a result of the accident.

Sanders said firefighters were on scene for about 30 minutes. He warned drivers to be careful on slick roads during the winter.

"It's that time of year," Sanders said. "We get a little complacent on driving on icy, snow-packed roads. Pay attention."

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