APACHE COUNTY — New details have emerged about a fatal crash that killed three people in April near the “Y” on State Route 61, after The Independent obtained the crash report from the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
The report details the horrific crash, including that right before the collision, the driver of one of the vehicles may have been asleep.
About 7:30 a.m. April 8, two vehicles collided head-on on the non-divided two-way highway about 10 miles east of Show Low. One was a white Ford van from TLC Supported Living in Show Low. It was headed northbound to Concho to pick up a client, according to the report. Craig Jackson, 38, of Pinetop, was driving the van. He had three passengers. In the front passenger seat sat Cara Roberts; directly behind her in the back seat was Aaron Staley, 38, and across from him was Janean Bryant.
Headed southbound was Candy Mae Knudson, 38, of Concho, in a silver Dodge Neon. She was on her way to work in Show Low.
At milepost 354.9, in a no-passing zone, Jackson reportedly crossed the centerline and collided head-on with Knudson. Knudson was killed along with Staley, who was found slumped over the empty middle seat the van. Officers noted in the report that although Staley had a seat belt on, the shoulder harness appeared to be behind his back.
Emergency crews extricated Jackson and intended to fly him to a Valley hospital, but his condition was too unstable to fly. Instead, he was rushed to Summit Healthcare in Show Low where he died about five hours later, surrounded by family.
Knudson was found strapped in her seat, her cell phone on the ground outside the vehicle. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Apache County Sheriff Sgt. D. Sloan notified Knudson’s next of kin, her mother, Mary Corbin. Corbin said Knudson had told her before leaving for work that morning, “I’ll try hard not to be late tonight.” Fifteen minutes later she was dead, said Corbin. Knudson leaves behind a 2-year-old son and husband.
DPS took statements from the two surviving van passengers. Janean Bryant, who was seated behind the driver, had a broken arm and leg. She was unable to provide any information about the crash.
Front seat passenger Cara Roberts told police that she didn’t see Jackson using any device or phone, but that he was “looking down at the time of the collision,” according to the report.
Roberts was treated at the hospital and released. She was later treated for a broken pelvis, apparently missed the first time at the hospital, said her mother, Sheri Watson.
Watson later told police that Cara had told her that Jackson had “his eyes closed and he appeared to be asleep,” according to the report.
TLC Supported Living had reportedly cancelled the trip to Concho that day, but Jackson didn’t know because he had forgotten his cell phone.