Teen dies in early head-on crash on Highway 191

Contributed Photo/Courtesy DPS: The teen driver of this Volkswagen Jetta succumbed to his injuries at a Tucson hospital the following day.

Four total hospitalized in crash; two with minor injuries treated and released

By Jon Johnson


GRAHAM COUNTY – A 16-year-old boy died early Monday morning after being involved in a head-on collision Sunday morning on U.S. Highway 191 south of Safford.

Troopers with the Arizona Department of Public Safety were dispatched to the scene near milepost 108 at about 7:35 a.m. and discovered a severe collision had taken place between a maroon 2004 Isuzu Rodeo and a silver 2002 Volkswagen Jetta. The area is about two miles south of Artesia Road.

Contributed Photo/Courtesy DPS: The driver of this Isuzu Trooper, Enrique M. Chanez, 59, of Clifton, was severely injured and flown to UMC.

According to a DPS news release, the 16-year-old driver of the Jetta was initially transported by Lifeline Ambulance to the Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center. He was then flown to Banner-University Medical Center Tucson, where he passed away Monday morning at 8:34 a.m.

The juvenile’s passenger, Sergio Glen Lira, 18, of Safford, was transported to MGRMC by his family for minor injuries and was treated and released.

The driver of the Isuzu, Enrique M. Chanez, 59, of Clifton, was flown to MGRMC by LifeNet-10 and then transported to UMC, where he was admitted for a fractured orbital bone, broken jaw, and collapsed lung, according to the release.

Chanez’s passenger, Jesus Noperi Parra, 63, of Clifton, was transported to MGRMC by Lifeline Ambulance, where he was treated for chest pains and released. All occupants of both vehicles were reportedly wearing their seatbelts.

According to the DPS release, witness statements and investigation revealed the Jetta was northbound when it drifted into the southbound lane, causing the collision. The Rodeo was southbound behind another vehicle, which managed to swerve out of the way of the Jetta.

Contributed Photo/Courtesy DPS: The crash is under investigation by the DPS.

Having less time to maneuver, the Rodeo wasn’t able to avoid the collision, and the two vehicles struck in the southbound lane. The Jetta rotated counterclockwise and came to rest in the middle of the roadway facing east, while the Rodeo also rotated counterclockwise and slid off the roadway to the southbound shoulder facing northwest.

DPS troopers were assisted at the scene by deputies with the Graham County Sheriff’s Office, the Safford Fire Department, and the Arizona Department of Transportation.  

Nutcracker Towing out of Pima and Magnum Towing removed the vehicles from the scene. The highway was closed at 7:35 a.m. and reopened at 9:09 a.m.

There was no indication why the Jetta drifted into the southbound lane, and the case is under investigation.