Flash flooding washout causes fatal crash killing four members in family of former Pinedale doctor
The washout measured approximately 25-30 feet wide and 9 feet deep. Photo courtesy Wyoming Highway Patrol.
In the darkness, the Constantinides vehicle plunged into the washout and was swept approximately 75 yards downstream in Brush Creek. Four of the five family members inside perished in the crash. Photo courtesy Wyoming Highway Patrol.
This vehicle was also caught by surprise and plunged into the roadway washout and was washed downstream in the torrent. The driver, John Ziegler-Mayor of Saratoga and Carbon County Emergency Management Coordinator, survived. Wyoming Highway Patrol courtesy photo.
Alex Constantinides family vehicle plunges into washed out roadway and is carried downstream in flood waters near Saratoga
by Pinedale Online!
July 19, 2011
Wyoming Highway Patrol has confirmed the deaths of four people from one family from a single vehicle that drove into a road washout caused from torrential rain flooding in a stream on WYO 130, the Snowy Range Road, approximately 35 miles east of Saratoga, Wyoming early Tuesday morning, July 19th. The accident claimed the lives of three children and an adult woman. Authorities have identified the family as that of Alex Constantinides - a former doctor at the Pinedale Medical Clinic.
Killed in the crash were:
Laurel R. Constantinides, female, age 39, passenger
Hanna X. Constantinides, female, age 8, passenger
Zoey H. Constantinides, female, age 5, passenger
Lucia Y. Constantinides, female, age 2, passenger
Alex Constantinides, the driver of their white VW van, was able to extricate himself from the vehicle and climb out onto a brush pile. After the nighttime plunge into the 30 foot gully, their vehicle was swept approximately 75 yards downstream in Brush Creek. Constantinides was taken to Carbon County Memorial Hospital in Rawlins. His wife and three daughters died at the scene in the accident.
The Ryan Park area had experienced heavy rain beginning around 7:00PM in the evening until around midnight. The Carbon County Sheriff’s Department and Carbon County Emergency Management were in the process of alerting and evacuating campers from campgrounds in the area in the Medicine Bow National Forest. The Constantinides had been advised by authorities to evacuate around midnight. The crash is estimated to have occurred around 1:15 – 1:40AM. All of the occupants were either wearing seat belts or secured in child restraints.
A second vehicle, a Dodge Durango emergency vehicle from Carbon County Emergency Management responding to the scene, also plunged over into the washout in the darkness and was washed approximately 45 yards downstream. The driver, identified as John Ziegler-Mayor of Saratoga and Carbon County Emergency Management Coordinator, survived. He was helped out of the vehicle by an unknown passerby and Alex Constantinides.
Two additional Forest Service roads and one bridge are reported washed away in the area. A fixed wing aircraft from the Carbon County Sheriff’s Office was flying over the area searching for any additional vehicles affected by the flooding.
The washed out roadway is measured to be approximately 25 to 30 feet wide and approximately 9 feet deep. It is believed that debris from torrential rains blocked large culverts that run under WYO 130 causing water to weaken the roadway.
Dr. Constantinides worked at the Pinedale Medical Clinic from 2003 until 2005. He then left to become a family practice physician at Front Range Medical Arts in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The family lived in Colorado Springs. According to the staff biography on the Front Range Medical Arts website, Dr. Constantinides' daughters were adopted from China and Korea.
Photos courtesy Wyoming Highway Patrol.