Alcohol believed to be a factor in UTV crash off Frye Mesa

Contributed Photo/Courtesy GCSO: The driver of this crashed UTV is being investigated for DUI. One of his passengers was flown to a Tucson hospital for head trauma.

Teen flown to Tucson hospital for head trauma

By Jon Johnson

FRYE MESA – A night in the high desert with friends, a fast UTV, and sweet-tasting alcoholic beverages ended abruptly for four teenagers when their 2019 Polaris Ranger rolled roughly 70 meters down a hill while traveling back from Frye Mesa Reservoir.

The driver, Wyatt Stahl, 18, of Safford, suffered a broken pelvis. A juvenile male passenger was ultimately flown to Tucson Medical Center for head trauma. Stahl’s blood was taken via a search warrant for laboratory testing purposes, and possible charges relating to DUI are pending the Arizona Department of Public Safety analysis of his blood. 

According to a Graham County Sheriff’s Office report, staff in the Emergency Room at Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center called Graham County Dispatch at about 4:14 a.m. on July 1 and advised that a male juvenile had suffered a head injury in an automotive crash. The male and another juvenile female had been dropped off at the Emergency Room.   

Upon arrival at the hospital, a deputy spoke with a juvenile female who said she was the injured male’s girlfriend. The female said she and her boyfriend were riding in the back of a UTV coming from an outing at Frye Mesa Reservoir when the vehicle left the roadway and rolled down a hill. She said they had all been drinking “Twisted Tea” (a hard ice tea that is 5% alcohol by volume) and a “Monster” brand hard energy drink that is 6% alcohol by volume, prior to leaving the reservoir. The female advised she was the only one in the group to wear her seatbelt and that she stayed in the UTV as it rolled down the hill while the other occupants were ejected. The juvenile female suffered only minor injuries and a fourth individual, an adult female who was the front-seat passenger, left the scene and was not found by police, according to the report. 

After the crash, the juvenile female said she helped the others back up to the road, where Stahl called for a ride. The juveniles were then dropped off at the hospital while Stahl and the adult female left in the vehicle that picked them up near the crash site.

While at MGRMC, the male juvenile had to be sedated and intubated (have a breathing tube inserted) prior to being airlifted to the Tucson hospital. An update on his condition wasn’t readily available.  

Stahl was taken to MGRMC by his father after his parents were informed of the incident. The father is the registered owner of the UTV and said he was aware Wyatt had taken the vehicle. 

Upon arrival, he was briefly interviewed by a Sheriff’s Office deputy but it was cut short to allow treatment of his injury. An odor of alcohol was smelled on Wyatt Stahl’s breath, and when questioned the teen allegedly admitted to drinking and driving. A search warrant was then submitted and approved and some of the blood taken by the hospital was seized by authorities to test for alcohol. 

Authorities located the crashed UTV down a ravine off W. Frye Mesa Road roughly six miles from the intersection with Reay Lane. Among the vehicle parts and personal items strewn about the crash site were a 24-pack of Twisted Tea and a box of Monster alcoholic beverages.