Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald
By Jon Johnson
THATCHER – A 17-year-old female skateboarder was hospitalized Monday, April 27, after being struck by a Jeep Cherokee while she was riding her longboard on the sidewalk near the intersection of U.S. Highway 70 and West Allred Lane.
According to a Thatcher Police report, the driver of the Jeep, Wyatt Motes, 21, of Thatcher, said he was making a left turn from the center lane of the highway onto West Allred Lane at about 9:17 p.m. when he noticed a person on a skateboard crossing the street. Motes said he knew other highway traffic was headed his way and that he couldn’t stop in the middle of the highway, so he attempted to avoid the skateboarder by veering to the right and in doing so struck a second skateboarder, who he did not see and was at that time nearly fully across the street. According to everyone involved, the skateboarders were all on the sidewalk at the time of the collision.
West Allred Lane is a small side street between the John Deere Stotz Equipment store and Morcomb Diesel & Electric Services. The concrete sidewalk that runs parallel to the highway continues across the street and just dips down to allow for vehicular traffic.
Motes said he struck the female skateboarder near his right front headlight and estimated his speed at about 10 to 15 mph at the time of impact.
The injured girl, her brother, and the other skateboarder were reportedly riding their longboards back from a trip to the Sonic restaurant when the collision occurred.
Upon arrival at the scene, the injured skateboarder was found lying on her back on Allred Lane with several people around her. She was transported to Mt. Graham Regional Hospital by paramedics with Lifeline Ambulance and treated for neck pain common with a whiplash-type of injury and a concussion but did not suffer any broken bones. The injured skateboarder’s mother told the Gila Herald that her daughter was recovering at home as of Tuesday, May 5.
“She’s still a bit sore, but we’re grateful nothing was broken,” the mother said. “She’s more or less working on the aches and the pains and finding new bruises.”
At the completion of the investigation, Motes was given a citation for failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.
“I just hope people really start watching out for kids,” the injured skateboarder’s mother said. “They’re everywhere right now with (the) quarantine. So, all the kids are out and we have to be careful.”