Two pairs of tourists in Yellowstone National Park are thankful after surviving a car crash along the South Entrance Road.
According to the Cody Enterprise, the tourists (one pair from Canada and one pair from Wisconsin) were in a “multi-vehicle crash” September 13 at approximately 5:30 p.m. A Silver Ford F150, southbound on the South Entrance Road near Riddle Lake Trailhead, crossed the center line and collided with a northbound red F150 carrying two visitors. It subsequently hit a northbound Chrysler van.
The Silver F150 subsequently went off the road and hit several trees before coming to a stop—blocking the northbound lane and part of the southbound lane. From the Enterprise:
Law enforcement officers from Grant and Lake districts responded to the scene along with four ambulances from Grant, Lake and Old Faithful districts, fire personnel, and a fire engine from Old Faithful.
The release did not name the driver of the southbound truck that apparently veered into oncoming traffic. But the northbound pickup truck was driven by Marjorie Larson, 59, of Ontario, Canada. Larson and her passenger, Nicole Kohut, 23, also from Ontario, both walked away from the crash unhurt.
“We had just been enjoying the scenery at Lewis Lake, when we came around the corner and the truck was heading right at us,” Larson said. “The impact knocked the glasses right off my face and I couldn’t see anything.”
After the initial crash, the truck smashed into a mini-van. Jim Bettenhausen, 60, and his wife, Alicia, 58, from Wisconsin were enjoying a leisurely ride back through the park when things took an abrupt turn.
“I saw a gray truck going at a high rate of speed side-swipe the two women in the vehicle ahead of us,” Jim Bettenhausen said. “When I saw him hit their car, I tried to take an angle but he hit us head on.”
Alicia added: “It was a terrifying moment, but the airbags saved our lives. I’m sure we were being watched over by a guardian angel.”
The man who caused the crash was later airlifted to a local hospital. It took a few hours to clear the wreckage.
The damaged vehicles were transported out of the park by Fishing Bridge Repairs. They took them to Pahaska Teepee, then Eagle Recovery from Cody brought the wrecked cars into town.
According to the Enterprise, Larson, Kohut and the Bettenhausens stayed the night with Cody resident Cindy Baldwin, when they discovered there were no vacant hotel/motel rooms in the city that night. The Betterhausens and Larson rented cars after sorting things out with their respective insurance agencies.
The accident is under investigation.