Four wrecks on East Idaho roads left a Blackfoot High School student and three other people dead during an eight-hour period starting early Saturday evening.
Authorities have identified the deceased as Blackfoot High School student Martin Cole Baler, 18, of Shelley; Brandon Tyler Osborne, 33, of Ammon; Josefina Yanez Ponce, 61, of Idaho Falls; and Gary Thompson, 64, no city yet provided. Two other people were seriously injured in the crashes and remain hospitalized.
Baler was a well-known senior first baseman with the Blackfoot High baseball team. He died in a wreck that occurred around 2 a.m. Sunday on Blacktail Road east of Bone Road near Idaho Falls. He was a passenger in a SUV being driven by a juvenile female, the Bonneville County Sheriff's Office reported. The girl told deputies that she lost control of the SUV along a curve in the road and the vehicle left the road and went over an embankment, overturning in the process, the Sheriff's Office said.
Baler was ejected from the SUV during the wreck and was dead when deputies found him at the scene. There was a juvenile male passenger in the SUV and he was treated at the scene by Idaho Falls ambulance personnel and was not transported to the hospital.
The juvenile female driver was transported by ambulance to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls for treatment of minor injuries, the Sheriff's Office said.
Osborne was killed in a wreck that occurred around 12:40 a.m. Sunday on Snake River Road along the Snake River near Ririe. Osborne was driving an SUV with three adult passengers when he lost control. His SUV left the roadway and entered the Snake River.
The SUV quickly became submerged but the three adult passengers — two men and a woman — were able to exit the vehicle and were not injured.
One of the male passengers walked from the scene to get help while the other two passengers entered a nearby cabin to stay warm.
Osborne did not exit the SUV and his body was found in the vehicle when it was later discovered by deputies with help from the Air Idaho Rescue helicopter, the Sheriff's Office said. Deputies got to the SUV via boat and removed Osborne's body.
The Sheriff's Office is reporting that deputies are still trying to remove the SUV from the river but the strong current is making this difficult.
The wrecks that killed Baler and Osborne remain under investigation by the Bonneville County Sheriff's Office.
Ponce died in a two-vehicle crash that occurred around 7:50 p.m. Saturday on Interstate 15 southbound near Fort Hall, state police said.
She was a passenger in a 2000 Ford F150 pickup driven by Ramon Ponce, 66, of Idaho Falls. The crash happened when the pickup “made contact” with the the front of a semi driven by David Dunn, 43, of Taylorsville, Utah, state police said. This contact caused the pickup to overturn and the vehicle came to rest on its top on the interstate’s shoulder.
Josefina was ejected from the pickup when it overturned and died at the scene, state police said.
An emergency helicopter was called in and landed on the interstate to airlift Ramon to Portneuf Medical Center in Pocatello. From there he was airlifted to another hospital for treatment of very serious injuries. PMC officials would not provide the name of the hospital where Ramon was transferred.
Reports indicated that Ramon was trapped in his wrecked pickup and had to be extricated by emergency personnel.
Dunn was not hurt in the wreck.
State police said the crash occurred while Ramon was trying to “overtake the semi as they entered a construction zone” on Interstate 15 north of Fort Hall.
State police said that neither Ramon nor Josefina was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash.
The southbound lanes of Interstate 15 in the area of the crash were partially blocked for about four hours because of the accident.
State police said they’re still investigating the crash.
Thompson died in a wreck that happened in Jefferson County around 6 p.m. Saturday, according to East Idaho News.
Both he and the other person hurt in the wreck, Timothy Kostal, 52, were airlifted by emergency helicopters to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls following the crash in which both men were ejected from a 1999 Ford F150 pickup being driven by Kostal, East Idaho News reported.
Postal lost control of the pickup while traveling on North 3950 East. The vehicle then left the road, at which point Kostal overcorrected and the pickup overturned, East Idaho News reported.
Authorities said that neither Kostal nor Thompson was wearing a seat belt and alcohol might have been a factor in the crash, East Idaho News reported.
The two emergency helicopters landed near the crash scene to pick up Thompson and Kostal and airlift them to EIRMC. Thompson was later pronounced dead at EIRMC.
Kostal was listed in serious condition at EIRMC Sunday afternoon.
In response to the four fatal wrecks, East Idaho authorities are strongly encouraging motorists to use caution.
"While the crashes in our area over the weekend are still under investigation to determine various causes, we would remind drivers to always wear their seat belts, pay attention and drive responsibly," said Sgt. Bryan Lovell of the Bonneville County Sheriff's Office. "Avoid getting behind the wheel if you've been drinking or using drugs."