Two killed in separate car wrecks

May 13, 2014 By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

Donald Abernathy, 83, of Lander, died Sunday in a one-vehicle rollover on Wyoming Highway 789 south of Lander.

Reports state he was driving north at about 4:30 p.m. when he lost control of his 1991 GMC pickup truck on an icy bridge near milepost 78.

"The vehicle crossed the bridge and went off the west side of the road," Wyoming Highway Patrol Lt. Tom Adams said. "It rolled one and one-quarter time, coming to rest on its left side."

Abernathy and his passenger, Garric Martin, 34, of Lander, both were ejected during the roll; Adams said neither occupant was wearing a seatbelt.

The older man died at the scene, while Martin was hospitalized in Lander. Alcohol was not involved in the incident, which did not block the highway. Adams said the crash took place on the road to Rawlins east of the Calvert Lane turnoff.

South Pass fatal

Thad Cheatham, 47, of Tooele, Utah, died Monday evening in a one-vehicle rollover on South Pass.

Officials said the accident took place at about 6:45 p.m. Monday at milepost 32, one mile south of the rest area on Wyoming Highway 28. Cheatham was eastbound when he lost control of his 1997 Ford F250 on "slush-covered roadway."

The vehicle left the road to the west and rolled one and one-half times, coming to rest on its top.

"He was wearing a seatbelt, however the cab of the pickup he was driving was crushed down onto him, causing fatal injuries," Adams said. "He died at the scene and had to be extricated."

Adams said the extrication process was difficult because of the condition of the vehicle.

"It was smashed pretty bad," he said.

Emergency responders on police scanners described the truck as "on its lid, crushed flat in the cab." They also were heard talking about poor road and weather conditions in the area.

"On South Pass you can be

driving along and it'll be dry, then all of a sudden it's slush-covered where it's been drifting," Adams said.

No road blockage was reported. A helicopter ambulance was mentioned, but responders said they were worried about weather in the area. The chopper was called off when it was determined that the man had not survived the crash.

Adams said both fatal crashes involved speeds too fast for conditions.

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