Drunk driving and texting while behind the wheel appear to be the causes of the third and fourth collisions at the new Gros Ventre Junction roundabout since the structure was completed a year and a half ago.
The roundabout remains in disrepair owing to a Dec. 12 APL Cargo semi-truck that careened through its center at an estimated 35 miles per hour.
The more recent collisions, which both took place on Friday, started off with a driver who admitted to texting and driving while headed northbound. That decision didn’t end well for Eric Hatch, who took out the sign in the intersection that informed drivers which way was which, Teton County sheriff’s Sgt. Clay Platt said.
“He admitted to not paying attention,” Platt told the Jackson Hole Daily.
Hatch reportedly is on the hook for replacing the sign, which was valued at around $1,000, in addition to receiving a citation. His vehicle was also damaged enough that it had to be towed from the scene, Grand Teton National Park spokeswoman Denise Germann said.
The next crash, two hours later, was in the immediate vicinity of the Gros Ventre roundabout, but didn’t involve the structure itself. Alex Rodriguez piloted his southbound vehicle, allegedly while drunk. He narrowly missed the roundabout, instead sliding into a snowbank, Platt said. There was no damage to the roundabout, but Rodriguez was arrested for DUI.
Although the rumor mill has it that retired pro baseball superstar Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez and his lady friend, singer Jennifer “J. Lo” Lopez, are in the market for an East Jackson home, police assured the newspaper that no celebrities were involved in the incident. The cited Rodriguez is from Casper.
After the December semi collision, Grand Teton rangers brought Federal Highway Administration officials to the roundabout site for a safety inspection of the $5.8 million intersection, which was redesigned in 2018. There were no red flags detected, Germann said.
“What they determined is the roundabout is designed correctly,” she said, “and it’s a safe and efficient design.”
Germann attributed the collisions to motorists behaving exactly how they’re not supposed to.
“If you look at the contributing factors, it’s distracted driving, it’s driving under the influence and it’s driving outside of the conditions of the road,” Germann said. “Those have nothing to do with the design of the roundabout.”