The best form of emergency response is prevention, as two ITD employees in District 1 will attest. Heroic efforts of Tyler Carrico and Calvin Vork, who were operating snowplows recently on Interstate 90 east of Coeur d’Alene averted a major disaster.
As they reached the snowplow turnaround location at the summit of Lookout Pass, according to supervisor Dave Autio, they noticed a westbound vehicle in the eastbound lane. The duo from ITD got onto the on-ramp headed west in an attempt to stop the driver, an elderly man. He disregarded – or misunderstood -- their efforts and continued down Lookout Pass in the wrong lane.
Carrico sent his partner to the bottom of the pass to warn the eastbound traffic while he called the State Communications Center and informed law enforcement officers of the potential crisis.
Carrico drove down the mountain pass in the westbound lane next to the wrong-way vehicle attempting to get the man’s attention. His efforts were unsuccessful.
Finally, at milepost 67, two Shoshone County deputies were able to stop the errant driver, who had no idea why he was being pulled over.
The driver traveled at least eight miles in the wrong lane on the Idaho side of the summit. It isn’t known how far he drove in the lane on the Montana side. The wayward driver believed he was on a two-lane highway and had no idea he had put many lives in peril.
Two days later, a similar problem occurred in the Osburn area. The same two employees noticed the wrong-way driver again.
“Again no accident,” Autio reported. “The local police and the Idaho State Police are working on this very serious problem.”
The wrong-way driver apparently has a medical condition and efforts may be initiated to curtail his driving privileges.
“I appreciate very much what my two employees have done and think they need to be recognized for their quick action,” Autio said.