Car crashes claim 5 lives on Sunday

Idaho State Journal photo One of the two vehicles involved in Sunday afternoon's triple fatal head-on collision on Highway 30 near McCammon. In addition to the two juveniles and adult who died, another juvenile suffered critical injuries and an emergency responder had a severe heart attack at the scene.

Idaho State Journal photo
One of the two vehicles involved in Sunday afternoon’s triple fatal head-on collision on Highway 30 near McCammon. In addition to the two juveniles and adult who died, another juvenile suffered critical injuries and an emergency responder had a severe heart attack at the scene.

By Journal Staff

Five people died and two others were seriously injured in three separate crashes on Sunday — a tragic Father’s Day for many families and emergency responders.

Idaho State Police Sgt. Mike Winans, who has been in law enforcement for nearly 20 years, said it’s always hard to respond to fatal crashes. But having multiple incidents in one day along with other emergencies was emotionally taxing.

“Yesterday was one of the top 10 worst shifts I’ve ever worked,” Winans said.

Among the most horrific of the incidents was a head-on collision on U.S. 30 near McCammon that claimed the lives of Pocatello siblings Eric, 15, and Lauren, 13, Neibaur, as well as Nampa resident Jay Lanningham, 70.

Eric was reportedly driving west in a red 1999 Chevrolet C1500 pickup when the vehicle crossed into the eastbound lane and collided with a white 2011 Chevrolet Suburban, driven by Lanningham.

State police say the cause of the crash is still under investigation.

“We know how it happened, but we’re still trying to figure out why it happened,” Winans said.

Eric, Lauren and Lanningham all died at the scene of the accident.

Lanningham’s juvenile passenger, also of Nampa, suffered serious injuries in the crash and was flown by air ambulance to Portneuf Medical Center in Pocatello. Authorities said the girl, whose name was not released, was in critical condition on Sunday, but was expected to survive.

All of the accident victims were trapped in their vehicles, both of which suffered catastrophic front-end damage.

A Bannock County sheriff’s deputy was the first responder at the scene and he was met by family members of the victims who were trying to extricate their loved ones from the wreckage. The family members were apparently following in other vehicles when the crash occurred.

The Bannock County Sheriff’s Office reported that a member of the county’s search and rescue unit suffered a severe heart attack at the accident scene.

Authorities said the responder was helping remove the victims from the wrecked vehicles when he went into cardiac arrest. Ambulance personnel at the scene had to revive him via a portable defibrillator. The responder was then transported by ambulance to PMC. The Sheriff’s Office reported early Sunday evening that he is expected to survive.

Although school is out for the summer, the Pocatello-Chubbuck School District provided counseling services on Monday to students who needed emotional support following the deaths of Eric and Lauren.

“Our School District is deeply saddened by the tragic death of Century High School Students Lauren and Eric Neibaur,” the school district posted on its Facebook page.

Eric played for the high school’s football team, while Lauren was on the school’s cheer team.

A vigil has been planned for the Neibaurs from 8-11 p.m. on Wednesday at the Portneuf Wellness Complex, according to the Facebook event “Vigil for Eric & Lauren Neibaur.”

A GoFundMe.com fundraiser has also been established to help the Neibaur family. Donations can be made at www.gofundme.com/3yd1geg. As of Monday evening, more than $3,000 had been raised.

Two other fatal crashes also occurred on Sunday.

State police said Grace resident Triston Perron, 20, was traveling north in a 1973 Ford Bronco on 8 Mile Creek Road, south of Soda Springs, when he failed to negotiate a curve. The vehicle subsequently went off the road and rolled.

Perron died at the scene, police said.

Another fatal crash occurred early Sunday morning on Rim Road south of Nampa.

Jose Puente Martinez, 28, of Caldwell died at the scene, according to authorities. Jesus Silva, 33, of Mexico was transported by air ambulance to St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise.

Silva was listed in critical condition on Monday, according to hospital officials.

That crash is still under investigation.

The timeframe between Memorial Day and Labor Day is known as the “100 Deadliest Days of Driving,” and that is once again proving true this year. Based on Idaho State Police and Journal reports, at least 15 people have died in crashes throughout the state since Memorial Day.

Winans says they’ve responded to five fatal crashes, involving a combined seven deaths, just in ISP’s District 5, headquartered in Pocatello. And that does not include fatal crashes that other local agencies have responded to. TheBingham County Sheriff’s Office handled one west of Blackfoot earlier this month.

Tim Marsano, ISP’s public information officer, says there were 85 fatalities in Idaho during the 100 Deadliest Days last year. He isn’t sure if the number of deaths so far this year has been higher than average, but says the number has certainly been higher than they want it to be.

In the weeks ahead — especially with the upcoming solar eclipse that is expected to draw many more travelers to Idaho — Marsano encourages drivers to be more cautious.

“I wish people would pay attention to the road more than they do and avoid distracted driving,” he said.

He also urges people to buckle up and drive sober.

Winans agrees.

“Pay attention and obey traffic laws,” he said, adding that drivers also need to slow down and be courteous to others on the road. “That’s what it boils down to.”