Fort Churchill accident
Appeal Staff Writer
SILVER SPRINGS – A Dayton 17-year-old was killed and four other teens seriously injured in an accident on a Silver Springs dirt road Friday morning.
Brandon Vanbibber died at the scene of the 8 a.m. head-on collision on Fort Churchill Road, 2.5 miles from Highway 95 Alternate.
According to Lyon County Undersheriff Joe Sanford, driver Vanbibber and four friends – front-seat-passenger Samantha Brown, 16, and back-seat passengers David Durant, 17, Chevy Brown, 14, and Miles Beales, 17, – were westbound on the wrong side of the dirt road when they ran into an eastbound 2005 Jeep Cherokee carrying Ronald Simms, 66, of Fernley. Simms was en route to his job at Hodges Transportation, which is on Fort Churchill Road.
“They couldn’t see me, and I couldn’t see them until it was too late,” said Simms, who has driven this route every workday since 1998. He suffered a bloody nose in the accident. “As soon as I saw them I probably applied the brakes, but I knew that wouldn’t be enough.”
Simms said three of the passengers were conscious and trying to get out of the 1988 two-door Mustang when he got to them.
“I pulled while they pushed on the door,” Simms said.
When that failed, he said, he smashed through the window with a rock.
“And they came pouring out.”
Vanbibber was dead upon impact. Samantha Brown was not conscious and was removed from the vehicle by emergency personnel.
Simms’ cell phone had no service, but a co-worker from Hodges Transportation happened upon the scene minutes after it happened and called for help.
All four of the surviving victims were taken from the scene by helicopter to Renown Regional Medical Center, Sanford said. The three boys are listed in serious condition, Samantha Brown is listed in critical condition in the intensive-care unit, he said.
It appears the group, on spring break from school, was either coming from or going camping, Sanford said. None of them were wearing their seat belts.
The Mustang’s hatchback was filled with a three-room tent and blankets. The area around the vehicle was littered with fishing poles and a tackle box.
The narrow dirt road, which extends along the Carson River from Mark Twain just outside of Dayton to Silver Springs, is not county maintained but is heavily traveled by ranchers, recreationists and Hodges Transportation’s 123 employees.
“It has blind curves and a washboard dirt and gravel surface,” Sanford said.
He said though there is no posted speed limit in the area of the wreck, “probably 25 mph would be tops on what would be safe out there.”
The wreckage indicates the Mustang was moving in excess of 25 mph, but speed was not a factor in the collision since the Mustang was traveling on the left side of the road, just the outcome, he said.
The administration of both Silver Stage and Dayton high schools were notified of the accident. Sanford said counselors will be on hand for students Monday morning.
The undersheriff, whose own children are now grown, said scenes such as this are hard for most officers to handle.
“Every time I pull up on these things I’m reminded that I’m a father,” he said. “It’s just so senseless.”
• Contact reporter F.T. Norton at email@example.com or 881-1213.
Secret Witness turns 40 this year – and it’s helped solve many of Northern Nevada’s most violent crimes
Secret Witness tips have played a pivotal role in solving some of the most violent crimes the greater Northern Nevada region has seen. To date, Secret Witness has paid out more than $300,000 in rewards to anonymous tipsters. Rewards range from $50 (graffiti/tagging) to $1,500 (armed robbery) to $2,500 (murder).