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Thu, Nov. 14

Accident on Highway 89 kills 57- year old Paulden woman

A 57-year-old Paulden woman died Thursday in a two-vehicle head on collision on Highway 89, about a mile north of the Prescott Airport.

Two other people suffered severe injuries. The accident prompted the closure of the two-lane highway for more than three hours.

About 11 a.m., at milepost 322, driver Robert Todd, 54, of Chino Valley was southbound in a 2003 GMC Sierra pickup, when he, for unknown reasons, crossed over the center line and hit head on a northbound 1995 Ford Crown Victoria, said officer Glen Huddleston of the Department of Public Safety, who investigated the accident.

The Crown Victoria’s passenger, Dianne Herrera, died at the scene, while her 78-year-old mother, Josephine McBurney of Prescott, suffered severe internal and external trauma, Prescott Fire Department spokesman Jeff Knotek said.

Emergency personnel airlifted her to a Phoenix hospital, and as of press time, she was undergoing surgery, a DPS press release states.

Paramedics also airlifted Todd to Flagstaff Medical Center with severe internal and external trauma, Knotek said. However, doctors later transferred him to a Phoenix hospital as well, the DPS press release states.

Knotek said all three people were trapped in the vehicles, and emergency personnel had to extricate the injured victims before they can treat them.

Two hours after the accident took place, officials were busy clearing the scene so that they could let traffic through.

Crews from the Arizona Department of Transportation, PFD, and Rapid Towing were sweeping a significant amount of debris that dispersed along the roadway. The southbound pickup was sitting on the right side of northbound lanes, while the Ford was in a southbound lane. Both vehicles appeared to have been destroyed.

About 100 yards south from the scene, someone decorated a blue cross with flowers in memory of a loved one who perhaps also tragically died in an accident.

At the intersection of Highway 89 and Willow Creek Road, Prescott Police officers were rerouting northbound traffic to Pioneer Parkway, then to Williamson Valley Road, Outer Loop Road and back on to Highway 89 in Chino Valley. Huddleston said the southbound traffic was using the same route.

However, drivers of a few semi trucks decided to park along the curb just south of the accident scene, patiently awaiting it to open.

At around 3 p.m. officials reopened the highway.

Knotek said this accident should be a remainder to drivers to drive defensively and not to speed or tailgate other drivers. He said during this time of the year, when many visitors are in the area, drivers are in a hurry to get to their destinations while forgetting simple driving rules.

“It is what typically causes an accident,” Knotek said, while adding that three engines from his agency and the Chino Valley Fire District responded to the scene, along with a battalion chief and other public safety crews.

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