Investigators are trying to determine what caused a vehicle to veer into oncoming traffic on Highway 50 East in Mound House Tuesday morning, causing a three-vehicle accident that claimed two lives.
According to the Nevada Highway Patrol, Isolde Ann Taysom, 51, was eastbound when she crossed the center lane into oncoming traffic just east of the V&T Railroad Bridge about 6:30 a.m.
Taysom's Chevy HHR, a rental car, ran head-on into a westbound GMC pickup driven by Scott Lamonda, 46, of Yerington. When the truck collided with a westbound Plymouth Neon driven by Michelle Northway of Silver Springs, it burst into flames, igniting both.
Northway, 46, and two passengers in the pickup, Paul Wiles, 45, and Randy Menisini, 36, both of Yerington, escaped. Wiles and Mensini were taken from the scene by helicopter to a Reno hospital. Taysom, whose vehicle came to rest clear of the burning wreckage, was killed on impact. Northway was not injured.
Witness Lee Grider, a corrections officer, was on his way to work about six cars behind the Neon when the accident happened.
Grider said he and another man tried to pull an unconscious Lamonda from the wreckage, but were unsuccessful.
"It all happened so fast. He was trapped in there, he was wedged in their pretty hard. We tried to pry the door open, and then we tried to pull him out through the window. He was just too heavy, too jammed in there," said Grider. "Once it started to flame up, and it started to get hot, we had to back away."
Grider said the driver never regained consciousness. Lamonda was pronounced dead at the scene.
"They were pulling with everything they had. They were pulling right from their toes. The door would not open," said one woman who asked to not be identified. "And finally when the flames got to their hands, they had to let go. They gave it their all."
Witnesses John Loveless and Mark Halverson also happened upon the scene moments after impact.
Loveless said it looked as if the HHR made a "45-degree" turn into the westbound lanes.
Halverson said Grider and another man tried desperately to free the trapped pickup driver as other passersby ran forward with fire extinguishers. But the "10-foot-tall flames" were too much.
Northway, who was headed to her job at Walmart, was stunned but unhurt in the accident. She said the incident remained a blur a half hour after it happened.
"The truck spun in front of me and I hit him but I really don't know what happened," she said.
The wreckage blocked both east and west traffic for more than an hour as rescuers from Carson City, Lyon County and the Nevada Highway Patrol worked the scene.
The cause of the accident is under investigation. Any witnesses who did not fill out a statement at the scene are asked to contact the NHP Major Accident Investigation Team at (775) 688-2500.