BUCKHANNON – At least one person remained hospitalized with serious injuries Monday following a head-on collision that occurred near the intersection of U.S. Route 33 and Childers Run Crossing Road this weekend.
Investigating officer Patrolman C.G. Cope with the Buckhannon Police Department said a female passenger in one of the two vehicles involved in the wreck late Saturday afternoon, 73-year-old Emma Cutright, remained in intensive care Monday. However, Cope said nursing staff informed him that as of Monday, Cutright did not appear to be in imminent danger.
The wreck happened just after 4:30 p.m. Feb. 22, when a tan 2002 Toyota Tacoma, being driven by Walker Marteney, 19, of Buckhannon, was traveling east in the eastbound lane of Route 33, and a white 2004 Chevrolet Astro cargo van, being driven by Michael Gagnon, 66, of Buckhannon, traveling west in the westbound lane of Route 33 pulled out in front of the Tacoma truck.
The report says the driver of the cargo van, Gagnon, was attempting to turn left, or south, onto the Childers Run Crossing Road but failed to yield to oncoming traffic in the eastbound lane of Route 33.
According to the accident report, Marteney’s truck struck the front passenger side of the cargo van, which then rolled several times prior to skidding to a stop upright on the eastern shoulder of Childers Run Crossing Road.
Gagnon and three passengers riding in the Chevy Astro – including Cutright, 22-year-old Brian Sheperd and 56-year-old Ora Sheperd – suffered incapacitating injuries, and two patients were transported by Upshur EMS to a landing zone on Kesling Mill Road and then life-flighted by HealthNet to Morgantown, according to a previous story.
Marteney, the driver of the truck, was uninjured and a 16-year-old female passenger may have suffered non-incapacitating injuries but refused medical transport, the file says.
The case remains under investigation and although no charges have been filed, Cope noted Gagnon made an improper turn, according to the file.
Both vehicles were towed from the scene due to disabling damage. In addition to the BPD, Buckhannon Fire Department and Upshur EMS, Deputy Tyler Gordon with the Upshur County Sheriff’s Department and Trooper J.S. Tonkin with the Buckhannon detachment of the West Virginia State Police assisted at the scene.
In April 2019, following the tragic passing of assistant city attorney and former longtime municipal judge Matt Hymes in a wreck at the intersection of Route 33 and Childers Run Road, city officials formally requested that the West Virginia Division of Highways undertake a traffic study along the stretch of Route 33 East from the Brushy Fork intersection to the Kesling Mill intersection.
The wreck in which Hymes, 82, and his passenger, Sarah Downes, 65, perished was just the latest in a series of fatal wrecks along that section of Route 33.
In late 2019, city officials requested an update on the traffic study’s progress. In response, Brian Cooper, district engineer with DOH District 7, informed city public works director Jerry Arnold the traffic study was underway but said a completed report would not be available “until at least February,” according to an email in council’s Jan. 16, 2020 meeting packet.