Austin Dunlap was headed westbound on Highway 22 on Tuesday morning when the cars in front of him came to a halt.
The drivers ahead had stopped for a deer crossing the Snake River bridge. Dunlap stopped too.
“Traffic was just starting to go again, and I looked up just in time to see headlights,” he said. “The guy behind me never slowed down.”
Dunlap, who was driving to Idaho Falls with his wife, Amanda, was rear-ended by a pickup, forcing his car to hit the one in front of him.
The accident turned into a three-car collision early Tuesday morning, with two people taken to the hospital and one driver — that of the pickup, a 27-year-old Jackson man — receiving a seat belt citation and a citation for careless driving, Trooper Adam Johnson said.
The accident happened just after 6:30 a.m. Tuesday at the edge of Wilson.
“It doesn’t look like impairment was involved,” Johnson said. “But people aren’t slowing down or paying attention. The driver of the pickup truck wasn’t paying attention and as a result collided with the car in front of it. The occupants of the truck also weren’t wearing seat belts.”
Johnson said speed may also have been a factor. The speed limit in that stretch is 45 mph.
“This time of year there are lots of wildlife on the move,” Johnson said. “We are working animal crashes every day. People need to watch what’s going on. There’s a reason the car in front of you is slowing down.”
He also urged drivers to always buckle up: “We have had so many fatalities in Wyoming this year, and a lot of those are due to people not wearing their seat belts.”
Traffic was stalled for about two hours, with the bridge closed while smashed cars were hauled off the road. The bridge reopened around 9 a.m.
The driver of the pickup and the passenger were taken to St. John’s Medical Center with injuries. One of them possibly suffered a broken leg, Lt. Matt Brackin said.
As his totaled Toyota Highlander was being towed away Tuesday morning, Dunlap said he was also going to make his way to the hospital.
“I can feel a headache coming on, and my foot feels funny,” he said.
This asset was updated to correct the first name of Amanda Dunlap. — Eds.