Two Idaho men were released from the hospital following a rear-end collision Tuesday night near Viola on U.S. Highway 95 that law enforcement claims occurred when one driver stopped to talk with a flagger awaiting Imperial Oil shipments bound for the Idaho/Montana border.
According to the Latah County Sheriff’s Office, Shawn Dewitt, 36, of Princeton, stopped his vehicle on the highway to investigate flashing lights belonging to a flagger awaiting three shipments of refinery equipment and ask how he should proceed.
Idaho State Police Capt. Lonnie Richardson said Dewitt voluntarily stopped to talk to the flagger around 11 p.m., and had not been requested to do so. Dewitt’s vehicle was then struck from behind by a vehicle driven by Frank Bybee, 33, of Desmet, Idaho, according to the sheriff’s office.
“It had nothing to do with the loads or being confused by the lights,” said Richardson. “It was just driver error.”
Richardson said the collision closed part of the highway, which was cleared around 1 a.m. after an investigation of the crash scene was conducted. Bybee and Dewitt were both transported to Gritman Medical Center where they were treated and released, according to a hospital spokeswoman. Both of their vehicles were towed and no citations have been issued.
Richardson said ISP was first to arrive on the scene, but the sheriff’s office is acting as the investigating agency as the state police had been assigned to covering the road Tuesday night as part of a contract with Mammoet, the shipping contractor for Imperial Oil. Those shipments were delayed by the accident for about an hour.
(Staff report, Moscow-Pullman Daily News)