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Children in crash died Tuesday after transport to SLC

Mar 19, 2014 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

Two Lander girls have died in Salt Lake City after being involved in a two-vehicle traffic accident Tuesday morning on Wyoming Highway 789 near Lyons Valley Road.

Officials said Emma Lewis, 3, and Olivia Lewis, 6, died Tuesday afternoon as a result of injuries suffered in the crash, which took place at about 7:45 a.m. Tuesday about six-and-a-half miles north of Lander.

The children stopped breathing immediately after the incident but were resuscitated by ambulance crews and Lander Regional Hospital emergency room staff. They were flown to Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City, where Emma died at about 2 p.m., followed by Olivia at about 3:20 p.m.

Collision with pickup

The girls' mother, Rebecca Lewis, 31, of Lander, was driving northbound with her daughters Tuesday morning on the icy, snowy highway when she lost control of her 2000 silver Chevrolet Suburban. Investigators said the vehicle rotated and crossed the center line, entering the opposite lane of travel.

The Suburban struck a southbound 2006 Dodge pickup truck driven by John Vaughn, 62, of Riverton.

"The Dodge collided with the Suburban on the passenger side," Wyoming Highway Patrol Lt. Tom Adams said Wednesday. "Both (vehicles) were in the barrow ditch."

The pickup is believed to have spun backward, coming to rest on the north side of the highway. Officials said the Suburban rotated 180 degrees and also ended up in the north-side ditch east of the pickup.

Seat belt use

Rebecca Lewis was wearing her seat belt, Adams said, and she was not injured in the crash. She later traveled to Salt Lake City with her 3-year-old daughter, according to reports, while her husband, Sean Lewis, arrived in Salt Lake City later with the older girl.

Vaughn also was wearing a seat belt, as was his front-seat passenger, William Osborne, 51, of Riverton, and Roberto Salazar, 19, of Riverton, who was in the right-side back seat of the pickup truck. All three were treated and released from Lander Regional Hospital. Officials said the truck they were occupying belongs to their construction company.

Adams wasn't sure about the speed of the involved vehicles at the time of the crash, but he said the Suburban was going too fast for the existing road conditions. Officials said streets at the time of the crash were icy and snow covered; the temperature was about 25 degrees, and visibility was bad due to snowfall.

The case will be sent to the Fremont County Attorney's Office for further consideration, "but I doubt that there are going to be any citations at this point," Adams said.

Fund established

Sean Lewis is an assistant professor at Wyoming Catholic College in Lander. The school issued a press release Tuesday afternoon expressing support for the family, including Olivia and Emma's sister, Vivian Lewis.

"We are deeply, deeply saddened by this tragedy," WCC president Kevin Roberts said. "Our hearts are breaking for (the Lewises) and for the many, many friends and family who have been touched by these young lives."

A fund has been set up to help the Lewis family pay for medical and transport costs as a result of the accident. As of 11 a.m. Wednesday, more than $60,000 had been raised.

For more information, visit tinyurl.com/mrh8ovr.

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