News of Riverton, Lander and Fremont County, Wyoming, from the Ranger's award winning journalists.
Coroner says fatal Hudson wreck was not an accident
Jul 10, 2013 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer
Last month's fatal crash involving two Wisconsin teens near Lander was not an accident, according to the Fremont County Coroner's Office.
The June 12 incident resulted in the death of Chase A. Schweitzer, 19, of Arkdale, Wis., and Andrea Esser, 17, of Sun Prairie, Wis. Officials have ruled Schweitzer's death a suicide by blunt force head trauma; a memo states he was involved in an "intentional collision" on Wyoming Highway 789 about three miles east of Lander.
The coroner's docket for Schweitzer indicates that drugs and alcohol were not involved in the crash.
Schweitzer is described as a while male with red hair and blue eyes. He was 5 feet, 10 inches tall and weighed about 140 pounds. He was found with 48 cents in change and other miscellaneous property in his vehicle that will be released to his family.
Coroner Ed McAuslan said Esser's autopsy results are not yet complete. She died June 24 in Colorado, where she had been hospitalized since the crash.
"We haven't heard back what her final determination is or what they did with her," McAuslan said Wednesday.
Reports state Esser was the passenger in the red 1998 Ford Contour that Schweitzer was driving at about 5:25 p.m. June 12. They reportedly were headed south on the highway when they crossed two lanes of travel and collided with an oncoming 2009 Ford F150 pickup truck driven by Michelle Caines, 43, of Lander.
Both vehicles reportedly left the roadway to the east. Officials said the Contour struck a power pole and ejected Esser and Schweitzer, who was pronounced dead at the scene. They were not wearing seatbelts, according to reports.
Esser reportedly was hospitalized at Lander Regional Hospital while Caines was treated and released from LRH. Caines reportedly had been wearing a seatbelt.
Officials said Caines had seen the Contour coming into her lane of travel and had attempted to brake and swerve to avoid a head-on crash. But despite her efforts, the vehicles collided in a "near head-on impact," according to reports.
Officials said both Schweitzer and Esser had the letters "DNR" written on their arms -- an acronym that commonly means "do not resuscitate."
Wyoming Highway Patrol officials said they weren't sure why the Wisconsin residents were in Wyoming. It was unknown whether the teens had family in the area. Officials did not suspect that alcohol or drugs were involved in the crash, which left the highway's northbound lane closed while officials cleared the scene of debris.