Medical problems may have caused Pyramid Highway wreck

RENO - A wreck that killed three and critically injured a fourth person may have been caused by medical problems.

Lafayette Lee, 66, of Reno died when his white 1990 Cadillac crossed into the left lane of the Pyramid Highway and struck a 1992 Mazda pickup head-on at better than 60 mph Sunday afternoon.

A Nevada Highway Patrol trooper was chasing the vehicle trying to stop it at the time of the wreck. Because of that, Washoe sheriff's investigators are handling the investigation.

Sgt. Mark Vorderbruggen of the Washoe Sheriff's Office said Monday it doesn't appear Lee was trying to run from the officer.

"It appeared he wasn't even aware the officer was chasing him," he said. "What the NHP trooper saw was the Cadillac weaving in and out of the northbound traffic lane."

The unidentified trooper put on his lights but got no reaction from the car.

"It didn't speed up, didn't slow down," said Vorderbruggen. "It just continued weaving."

He said that descriptions from the trooper and other witnesses, plus the fact that Lee was a diabetic, have coroners and detectives trying to determine if a medical emergency caused the man to lose control of the car.

Ronald Phoenix, 37, Sparks, who was driving the pickup, died at the scene of the wreck. Shasta Suraco, 6, of Suttcliffe, died at Washoe Medical Center. The other passenger, Justin Suraco, 8, also Suttcliffe, was reported in critical condition Monday.

The car burst into flames after the crash. Intense heat prevented passers-by and troopers from getting Lee out.

Vorderbruggen said the investigation may take several weeks. The results will be submitted to the Washoe District Attorney's Office for review.


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