Laramie – Here are the details of this significant roll over Tuesday that ended up in a flight for life times two helicopters at Mile Post 286.50 I-80 Eastbound.
On October 16th, 2012 at approximately 0854 hours, 71 year old George R McClellan and his wife Bonnie J McClellan (67 yr. old) from Overland, Kansas were eastbound on Interstate 80 near Mile Post 286.50 in the driving lane traveling at approximately 75 mph. The McClellan's were driving their 2005 Honda Odyssey Van and had their dog with them. It is believed that the cruise control was on when according to Ms. McClellan, Mr. McClellan likely experienced a heart attack or stroke and immediately thereafter went unconscious. Ms. McClellan seated in the right front passenger seat was unable to take control of the steering wheel. According to eye witnesses on either side of I-80, the McClellan vehicle drifted across I-80 towards the median and there was no evidence that the brakes were ever applied. The Odyssey continued towards a significant fenced wildlife barricade which surrounds an enormous concrete culvert which allows livestock, wildlife and even a rancher's vehicle to pass underneath the interstate, while protecting traffic on the interstate from animals. The Odyssey struck the southwest corner post and started to drag posts and fencing along as it hurtled towards the first wing wall of the south concrete culvert. In true Dukes of Hazard fashion, the vehicle went airborne across the wide culvert for an estimated 25-30 feet. While the fence material and posts acted as a mechanical parachute to significantly slow the McClellan vehicle, it also accelerated the vehicle into a roll while airborne across the culvert. The top of the vehicle struck the next concrete wing wall, then rolled towards the center of the ditch and flipped upright on its wheels, but now facing the opposite direction.
The witnesses and other passerby(s) unbuckled the McClellan's and got them out of the vehicle concerned that a fire would ensue. The McClellan's dog was thrown from the vehicle and did not survive the crash. Thankfully the McClellan's were wearing their seat belts which undoubtedly saved their lives and helped reduce the severity of their injuries. Additionally life saving airbags front and side deployed in the vehicle, which helped to protect the couple.
Laramie, Albany County Fire and Rescue, Big Laramie Valley Fire Dept., Albany County Sheriff's Dept. and WDOT Employee's assisted members of the Wyoming Highway Patrol with this crash. Two Life Flight Helicopters were dispatched to the scene, one from Cheyenne and the other from Casper. Both McClellan’s were flown from the scene to Cheyenne Regional Medical Center in Cheyenne, WY. I-80 eastbound was closed for 22 minutes for the first helicopter and 42 minutes for the second helicopter as both helicopter's had to land in the middle of eastbound I-80 next to the crash scene.