A 19-year-old former Carson Valley woman who stopped for a red light on Highway 50 died Monday afternoon from injuries after her vehicle was hit from behind by the driver of a Ford Ranger pickup.
Rachel Lynn French of Dayton was at the intersection of Highway 50 and Airport Road in a gray Chevy Cavalier when a Ranger driven by 19-year-old Joni Marie Salvo of Carson City rear-ended the car at 3:12 p.m.
Salvo also hit a pickup stopped in the left-turn lane. The male driver of that vehicle was uninjured, according to Nevada Highway Patrol Officer Eddie Bowers.
A witness to the accident, Mike Millard, whose business is on Highway 50, said the Ranger never slowed and was "definitely speeding."
Once the Ranger hit the Cavalier, it sent the vehicle in a "forward, sideways and (then) spinning" motion into the intersection before it came to a rest, he said. Both girls were alive when he arrived, and he said music was playing loudly from the Ranger, and the driver was "fading in and out."
As troopers diverted traffic around the accident, a pink stuffed animal lay in the middle of the intersection along with a rear light, a bottle and a slew of papers.
"The Ranger came along and plowed into the back of both (vehicles)," said Bowers. "The Cavalier took the brunt of the hit and was pushed into the intersection."
Snowboard boots and a snowboard jacket lay in the back of the Cavalier, which had come to rest in the northbound lanes of Airport Road.
"I don't know if she had any kids, if she was a mom," Millard said. "But she has to be someone's daughter."
According to Millard, once the Ranger hit the Cavalier, the Ranger became airborne. The Ranger, which had damage to its left front, hit a pole in the northwest corner of the intersection.
"It's just unknown, the reason (for the accident) at this point in time," Bowers said. "It's still under investigation. There's no reason (the driver) came along and slammed into the back of those two cars. They evidently were traveling at a high speed to cause that person to be killed and then to be extricated."
French died on the way to the hospital. Salvo was flown by Care Flight to Washoe Medical Center and was in serious but stable condition, according to Bowers. The driver of the Cavalier was wearing her seat belt.