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Officials rule death of second teen in June crash a suicide

Jul 11, 2013 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

Officials in Colorado have ruled the death of Andrea Esser, 17, of Sun Prairie, Wis., a suicide.

Esser was the passenger in the red 1998 Ford Contour that reportedly was southbound on Wyoming Highway 789 three miles east of Lander when it crossed two lanes of travel and collided with an oncoming 2009 Ford F150 pickup truck at about 5:25 p.m. June 12.

The driver of the Contour, Chase A. Schweitzer, 19, of Arkdale, Wis., died at the scene of the crash.

The two teens were engaged and had been reported missing in Wisconsin that day. According to Schweitzer's obituary, Schweitzer was a 2012 graduate of A-F High School and was a freshman at Herzing University studying game development. The obituary states Esser graduated from A-F High School this spring.

Intentional collision

Schweitzer's death was ruled a suicide due to blunt force head trauma, local officials said this week. His autopsy report states he was involved in an "intentional collision." Drugs and alcohol reportedly were not involved in the incident.

Officials at the Arapahoe County Coroner's Office said Esser died June 24 due to complications of severe cranial and cerebral injury due to blunt force head trauma. "Significant conditions" involved in her death included blunt force trauma to the trunk as well as a history of depression.

Esser's report does not mention an intentional collision, but officials said there was a note written on both of her arms. They would not release the content of the notes, but witnesses at the scene of the June 12 crash said both Esser and Schweitzer had the letters "DNR" written on their arms. The acronym typically means "do not resuscitate."

Esser's body reportedly did not undergo an autopsy. Rather, officials said they reviewed her records to determine her manner of death.

Crash

The pickup truck involved in the June 12 crash was driven by Michelle Caines, 43, of Lander, who was treated and released at Lander Regional Hospital after the collision. She was wearing a seatbelt, according to reports.

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.

Both vehicles reportedly left the roadway to the east after impact. The Contour reportedly struck a power pole and ejected Esser and Schweitzer, who were not wearing seatbelts. Esser reportedly was hospitalized at Lander Regional Hospital then airlifted to Colorado to be treated for injuries.

The crash left the highway's northbound lane closed while law enforcements cleared the scene of debris. Wyoming Highway Patrol officials said they weren't sure why the Wisconsin residents were in Wyoming.

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