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Publish Date: 5/26/2005

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Berthoud firefighters look on while a Colorado State trooper investigates a fatal accident on the corner of Weld County roads 1 and 40 on Wednesday south of Berthoud. Times-Call/Joshua Buck

Crash kills teen
Accident outside Berthoud leaves 3 injured


BERTHOUD — A teenage girl was killed Wednesday afternoon when the car she was riding in ran a stop sign and was hit by a pickup truck just outside of Berthoud.

Two teen boys in the car were taken to Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins with life-threatening injuries, Colorado State Patrol troopers said. One was later airlifted to a trauma center in Denver.

The fourth teen — a boy who troopers think was driving — was less seriously injured and taken to McKee Medical Center in Loveland, according to the state patrol.

The girl, who was riding in the back passenger seat of the car, died at the scene.

Trooper Eric Wynn, spokesman for the state patrol, said Wednesday night that the names of the teens likely wouldn’t be released until today. Berthoud residents who came to the crash site said at least one of the teens is from Berthoud.

According to the state patrol, the four teens were in a black 1991 Lexus traveling east on Larimer County Road 4.

The teens’ car ran the stop sign at LCR 4, Wynn said, and a white 2002 Dodge 2500 pickup truck traveling north on WCR 1 hit the car’s passenger side.

The truck’s driver, 68-year-old Leslie Ross Mechem of Berthoud, was not seriously injured.

He stood beside the road for more than an hour after the crash but declined to talk about what happened. He appeared very upset.

“He says they didn’t stop at the stop sign and just came right out in front of him,” Trooper Darrel Waggener said.

Troopers found drug paraphernalia in the teens’ car but have not yet determined if drugs or alcohol were a factor in the crash, Trooper Dennis Schenkenberger said.

Investigators are still looking into the crash.

“It just makes my heart so sad,” said Stephanie Bender, who lives at the intersection of LCR 4 and WCR 1. “It makes my heart so, so very sad.”

Bender heard the crash, called 911 and ran out of her yard. She said she saw a white truck, a cloud of dust and one teenager who was thrown from the car 30 feet into the field.

“When you have vehicle speeds at 55 mph, which is the speed limit on this road ... it is going to be a horrific accident,” Schenkenberger said.

None of the teens were wearing seatbelts, Schenkenberger said.

“It is just a great reminder that you have to wear your seatbelts,” he said.

People who live near the intersection, which straddles Larimer and Weld counties, said they were saddened by the wreck but not surprised. They said people speed up and down WCR 1 and often do not heed the stop sign at LCR 4.

“We’re scared to death every time we pull out here,” said Jerald Hirsch, who lives down the road.

Bender said she has complained many times to Weld and Larimer county law enforcement agencies, but there still is not enough traffic enforcement at the intersection.

“Something needs to be done so it doesn’t happen again,” she said.

Pierrette J. Shields can be reached at 303-684-5273, or by e-mail at pshields@times-call.com.

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