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Educator killed, others injured in Monday car crash west of Casper

Mar 12, 2013 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

Officials said the area was experiencing snowfall at the time of the crash, and they attributed speeds too fast for existing conditions as a contributing factor in the incident.

Riverton Middle School paraprofessional Elizabeth Erickson died Monday afternoon, March 11, at the scene of a traffic accident on U.S. Highway 20/26 west of Casper.

Reports state that Erickson's daughter, Minnie Erickson, 16, of Riverton, was in the vehicle as well. Officials said she was hospitalized at the Wyoming Medical Center in Casper to be treated for wounds on her back and the back of her head; she is expected to be released on Tuesday.

The crash took place around 2:25 p.m. Monday about 30 miles west of Casper in Natrona County.

According to reports, Elizabeth Erickson, 36, had been driving west on the snow-covered roadway when she lost control of her 2006 Chevrolet HHR on a bridge.

"The bridge ... had slush on it," Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper Adam Bruning said Tuesday. "She went over the bridge deck, hit the slush, and began to spin out."

The vehicle crossed the center line, entered the eastbound lane of travel, and collided, rear-end first, with a 2012 GMC Sierra pickup truck driven by Lee T. Grover, 53, of Douglas.

Grover and his passenger, Lela R. Grover, 52, of Douglas, were treated and released Monday from the Wyoming Medical Center in Casper.

After impact, Bruning said, both vehicles came to rest blocking both lanes of the roadway.

"The HHR and the Sierra were both facing eastbound," Bruning said. "The HHR had significant crush damage to the rear side of it, and the Sierra had pretty significant damage on the front end."

Bruning said investigators could not determine how fast the HHR had been traveling, because the vehicle was moving backward at the time of impact, but he said the Sierra was going about 60 miles per hour.

The HHR's airbags also did not deploy because the vehicle was struck from behind, but Bruning said the Sierra's airbags did go off. Everyone involved in the accident was wearing a seatbelt.

Law enforcement officials were able to direct traffic onto the shoulders of the road around the crash scene, but Bruning said the highway was closed for about 45 minutes immediately after the incident.

"We finally got it cleaned up enough that the emergency lanes could be open," he said.

Officials said the area was experiencing snowfall at the time of the crash, and they attributed speeds too fast for existing conditions as a contributing factor in the incident.

Bruning said driving conditions were better elsewhere on the highway.

"The roads were perfectly dry up until about half a mile from the crash," Bruning said. "Then all of a sudden (that slush is) just there."

He added that the Ericksons had been on their way home from a medical appointment.

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