Pass crash could have been worse, driver through guardrail

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – Several emergency vehicles were seen speeding up Teton Pass yesterday in response to the ‘first of the season’ accident involving a motorist who broke through the guardrail and plummeted some 50 feet or so.

Responders from Teton County Sheriff’s Office, Wyoming Highway Patrol, Jackson Hole Fire/EMS, Teton County Search and Rescue were called out around 2:30pm yesterday to a report of a collision and someone off the road on Highway 22 up on the pass.

“We seem to get one of these to begin every winter season. It’s probably a good reminder to adjust driving speeds to conditions,” Undersheriff Matt Carr said. “It’s fortunate it went how it did. The victim was reportedly in some pain. He was rescued using a litter and transported to St. John’s.”

Buckrail is still working on learning the identity of the injured driver but he was treated and released

Guardrail is visibly damaged after vehicle went through and down a steep embankment. (Scott P. Stout)

at St. John’s Medical Center.

One aspect of mountain pass accidents is the need for Search and Rescue to be deployed. In many cases, especially where a severe injury occurs, simply getting up and down steep embankments becomes a challenge. Ropes and climbing skills are often necessary.

“We do steep embankment rescue training every year with the Fire Department,’ Carr said. He also heads up the agency from the Sheriff’s Office side. “Just getting Fire and EMS down to the scene sometimes requires assistance from SAR.”

Carr added that road conditions at the time of the accident were not bad.

Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper Andy Jackson said it’s the fourth accident he’s seen at the same spot with the victim rolling all the way to the bottom of the embankment.

“The road was dry but it had just started snowing,” Jackson said. “He eastbound and was speeding, probably 65-70 miles per hour, and didn’t make the corner. It was at milepost 13 and, believe it or not, most people that go off the road are traveling uphill.”

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