Sober designated drivers crash head-on while ferrying party goers

Contributed Photo/Courtesy SPD:

Multiple passengers treated at the local hospital, one taken to Tucson facility

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD – A head-on collision between two sober designated drivers early Thursday morning resulted in numerous injuries, including an eyelid laceration that resulted in the injured party being transported to Banner – University Medical Center Tucson (UMC).

Contributed Photo/Courtesy SPD

Officers were dispatched at about 3:06 a.m. to a two-vehicle collision on 20th Avenue just south of the intersection with Golf Course Road. Upon arrival, officers located a gray, 2014 Ford Fusion and a 2004 Chevrolet truck that appeared to have been involved in a head-on collision.

There were multiple people injured, and the occupants of the truck, listed in the police report as driver Miles Tapusoa, 21, compartment passengers Lachelle Ku, 18, and Makena Ahuna, 18, and truck bed passengers Moses Mallory, 20, Kori Diego, 18, and Gilbert Hornberger, 18, were all transported to Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center for treatment.

Mallory received several stitches for a head laceration, Ahuna suffered a bloody nose, Diego had several small head lacerations, and Hornberger had a small head laceration. They were all treated and released from the hospital.

Ku had a large eyelid laceration and was transported to UMC in Tucson for further treatment.

The driver, Tapusoa, had some scratches but was otherwise not injured. He said he was driving friends home from a party when the Ford Fusion was driving toward him (southbound) in his northbound lane. Tapusoa said he tried to avoid a collision by turning into the southbound lane but the Ford returned to the southbound lane right after and the two vehicles collided.

Tapusoa didn’t show any signs of impairment and blew a .000 on a portable alcohol breath test. He also advised that the driver of the Fusion had run away from the crash but that he looked like a guy who went to the same school (Eastern Arizona College) as he did. The other occupants of the truck all said the Ford Fusion was driving at them in their lane and corroborated Tapusoa’s statement.

A passenger in the Fusion, Sharron Wallace, 19, identified the driver as Jarec Brown. Wallace said Brown had picked her up from the party and had stopped to get food. She said she fell asleep while he was driving and woke up after the crash. Wallace was shaken up from the crash but was otherwise uninjured, according to the police report. 

After the investigating officer had left the hospital, he received notice that Brown was at the Emergency Room. Reportedly, another college student who was informed of the collision saw Brown at the school’s dormitory and didn’t think he looked right, so she took him to the hospital.

Brown appeared disoriented, but denied drinking and blew a .000 on a portable breath test. He corroborated Wallace’s version of events and said that on the way back to the party a truck entered his lane and they collided.

Officers at the scene of the crash determined that evidence indicated Brown was southbound in the northbound lane, which forced Tapusoa to the southbound lane just prior to Brown returning to the southbound lane and both vehicles colliding.

Brown faces possible charges relating to the collision, including leaving the scene of an accident.