State Route 260 fatalities still waiting on toxicology tests

The Camp Verde Marshal’s Office reports that it handled 39 accidents and four fatalities on SR 260 during 2014. VVN file photo/Vyto Starinskas

The Camp Verde Marshal’s Office reports that it handled 39 accidents and four fatalities on SR 260 during 2014. VVN file photo/Vyto Starinskas

CAMP VERDE -- There is still no clear outcome except sadness in the Nov. 21 Arizona 260 collision of a mini-van and pickup truck near the county jail.

Now, the case has become a fatality with the death of the unborn child of Sabrina Champ and Jeremy Hutchinson of Rimrock.

A funeral for the infant takes place Monday, Feb. 9.

While no one died at the scene of the Nov. 21 collision, the result was dramatic. With the number of serious injuries, five medical helicopters lined up along the highway to airlift injured patients. Traffic was detoured along Old Highway 279.

The death of Shirley Moorehead Dec. 22 in the same area was immediately determined to be fatal. At that point, the Camp Verde Marshal's Office was advising motorists to use more caution. They had handled 39 accidents and four fatalities on SR 260 during 2014 by that time. The death of the unborn child brings the one-year number for highway deaths on SR 260 to five.

The November accident is still under investigation with the assistance of the Yavapai County Attorney's Office. Impairment has not been ruled out, according to a news release from the Camp Verde Marshal's Office. Any charges and/or arrests are pending the results of the toxicology findings.

Toxicology tests are also pending in the Dec. 22 Shirley Moorehead fatality.

Just this week, the Arizona Department of Public Safety announced that the number of fatal collisions the state department has investigated in 2014 has declined by 49 percent since 2006 and only 13 percent of cases for the lab took longer than 30 days during 2014.

By Jon Hutchinson, Staff Reporter

While accidents and fatalities continue to add up, there is slow progress to a four-lane SR 260 in the Verde Valley stretch that remains in Camp Verde.

Randy Blake, project development coordinator for ADOT's Prescott District, updated the status of the road project during a Jan. 28 meeting of the Verde Valley Transportation Planning Organization.

The State Transportation Board has budgeted $62 million for the 4-lane improvement between Thousand Trails and Interstate 17, with a total of seven roundabouts to serve as limited highway interchanges.

The money is currently in the road department's 2016 fiscal budget, which begins in July.

However, since the new governor has identified balancing the state budget as a top priority, it is likely the district will be ordered to seek savings in all construction programs. Blake said the primary focus for the road department is "maintenance."

He said 260 improvement plans developed by Jacobs Engineering are now at about 30 percent. The next step, he said, is uncertain.

Negotiation remains underway for a Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR). He says a contractor is not yet on board.

They will work with towns for the next month or two on design. One or two public meetings will be held as the design progresses. One public meeting is likely when plans reach 60 percent, Blake said.

Because of archeological sites on National Forest Land, the roundabout at Hayfield Draw was moved 150 feet, he said.

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