At 11:34 a.m. on September 20th, a fatal three vehicle crash occured 35 miles east of Buffalo in Johnson County. Eight people were involved in the crash. Four were uninjured, two were treated and released from Johnson County Memorial Hospital, one remains hospitalized. Jerome D. Poland, age 75, of Deerwood MN was killed. Kristen M. Eliassen, age 47, of Gillette Wyoming has been cited for careless driving.
Roadways at the time of the crash were clear and dry with good visibility. Approximately 2 miles west of the crash location there is a construction zone. West bound traffic was diverted to the east bound side of I-90 where there was two lanes of traffic traveling both east and west bound. An extremely large oversized load was being moved through the construction zone. In order to facilitate this movement west bound traffic had to be stopped completely before entering the construction zone.
This closure was supposed to last no more than 30 minutes. At the time of the crash the closure had been in effect for one hour and twenty five minutes. Westbound traffic had backed up approximately 2 miles to the east of the construction zone. Construction crews had moved traffic control signs behind the stopped vehicles and there was approximately .8 mile of visibility for traffic to be alerted that traffic was stopped.
Poland came to a controlled stop in the right lane behind the stopped traffic. Zetha C. Estes of Rapid City SD, came to a controlled stop in the left lane, next to the Poland vehicle. Kristen M. Eliassen, age 47, of Gillette Wyoming stated that prior to the crash she had her cruise control set at 80 miles per hour and had shut her cruise off as she looked to the east bound lanes of I-90 at the large oversized load. When she looked straight ahead traffic was stopped and she struck the back of the Poland vehicle. The impact caused the Poland vehicle to slide to the left, cross into the left lane, and strike the back of the Estes vehicle.
Jerome Poland was life flighted to Wyoming Medical Center in Casper. The remaining occupants of Vehicle #1 were transported to Johnson County Memorial Hospital in Buffalo via ground ambulance.
Eliassen has been cited for careless driving.