The Eastern Arizona College football team started its road trip like any other, loading up and heading out with the team sports medicine van with its personnel and one radio play-by-play announcer and two buses carrying the team, coaches and one sports reporter.
Coming out of Pima, according to Lee Paterson, radio play-by-play announcer, the van was passed by a Volkswagen sedan approaching 90 miles an hour.
Less than 30 minutes later, again according to Patterson, the Volkswagen would be the cause of a multi car accident.
The incident took place beyond the Bylas bridge several miles up the road, where there is a long up hill stretch of highway 70.
Apparently, the driver of the Volkswagen was traveling at a high rate of speed and lost control of the vehicle.
It was at the top of the hill where the Volkswagen sedan instigated a chain reaction with a vehicle towing a truck and two other sedans heading east. The Volkswagen was heading west.
What ensued was four cars clipping and spinning out and impacting each other and closing down traffic in both lanes.
According to Patterson, he made the initial 911 call for help. Meanwhile, the Eastern Arizona College sports medicine crew members grabbed their medical kits and went into action to evaluate any injuries and assist where they could.
Even though the damage was extensive that disabled the vehicles at the accident scene, it did not appear there were any serious injuries. One man had to be removed from one of the cars with the jaws- of-life.
Patterson said there was one person trapped in the car, who was, while waiting to be extracted, talking on his cell phone the whole time. He was one of the people air evacuated by helicopters. No ground ambulances were dispatched to the scene.
Three people were air evacuated from the scene by helicopters.
He said that the only blood was that from the nose of one child of two children who were passengers in one of the sedans. The child was tended to by the sports medicine crew from EAC.
The two children at the accident scene waited with the sports medicine crew for a private vehicle to come from Safford to be transported home.
Sports reporter from the Eastern Arizona Courier Jay David Murphy, who arrived 30 minutes later at the scene, riding with the team on the bus, climbed the hill to evaluate the scene, take photos and speak with tribal law enforcement.
Tribal police were appreciative of the team’s situation and officer E. Eaton ll, also San Carlos High School’s football head coach, quickly got the 100-yard debris field removed so westbound traffic could start moving followed by the backed-up eastbound traffic.
By that time the last of the helicopters had already come and gone, one vehicle had already been removed from the scene and three others were being prepared to be towed from the scene. Highway 70 was closed down for approximately two hours.
The team buses were delayed about one hour and 25 minutes, which set back the start of the Glendale match-up 45 minutes from 7 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.
See Page A6 for the story on the game.