Three sisters are dead and one man is in police custody following in a two-vehicle accident early Saturday morning on U.S. Highway 20 southwest of Bellevue, according to the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office.
Fairfield resident Mathew Park, 46, was allegedly intoxicated when his pickup truck rear-ended a Dodge Neon stopped at a temporary traffic signal for a bridge construction site near Hot Springs Landing west of Timmerman Junction, Sheriff Steve Harkins said in a statement.
The victims were ages 3, 5 and 6 years old.
Two of the children died at the scene. The 3-year-old was transferred to St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center in Boise, where she later succumbed to her injuries, according to the Ada County Coroner’s Office. The three children were siblings, the coroner said.
All three were belted in car seats in the back of the compact sedan, Harkins said.
The girls’ father, Somchai Ray Lee Lurak, was driving the Neon at the time of the accident. The 26-year-old from Mountain Home suffered serious injuries and was flown to by air ambulance to Boise for treatment. As of Monday afternoon, he was listed in critical condition, Harkins said. His front passenger, Emma Weigand, also 26 of Mountain Home, was brought to St. Luke’s Wood River before being transferred to St. Alphonsus Hospital in Boise.
Lurak and Weigand are engaged to be married, according to a GoFundMe page set up by his sister, Amanda Lurak.
Park showed no signs of injury and declined treatment at the scene, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies said Park demonstrated signs of intoxication. Following field sobriety and Breathalyzer tests, he was booked into the Blaine County Detention Center just past 3:30 a.m. on Saturday and is expected to be arraigned this afternoon on two counts of felony aggravated driving under the influence, and three counts of felony vehicular manslaughter.
First-responders from the Sheriff’s Office, Hailey Fire Department, Wood River Fire and Rescue, Bellevue Fire Department and Carey Rural were dispatched to the scene around 1:15 a.m. Saturday morning. They found several people trapped in vehicles, according to Hailey Fire Chief Craig Aberbach. According to the initial report, deputies determined that Lurak stopped at the temporary signal in the westbound lane when the car was struck by Park, who was also travelling westbound.
The Sheriff’s Office is heading up an investigation, and has asked the Idaho State Police for help reconstructing the accident.
Lurak suffered a broken neck, his sister said in a Facebook post. On Sunday, she reported that he was conscious and speaking. While he has feeling in his legs, he can’t yet move his feet, she said.
In less than two days, the fundraiser has raised almost $12,000 from more than 250 people to support funeral and medical expenses.
This is a developing story. The Express will update the website as more information becomes available.