Clark teen injured in rollover

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— A North Routt County teen-ager is recovering from elbow and lung injuries after rolling his truck on County Road 129 near Clark.

David Schwanke, 16, totaled a 1987 Ford Ranger pickup in the one-vehicle wreck at 11:30 p.m. Wednesday. He was taken by ambulance to Yampa Valley Medical Center, but a hospital spokeswoman said that because of his age, she could not release information about his condition until his parents give their consent. Schwanke's parents were out of town, but were reportedly on their way back to Steamboat Thursday.

North Routt Fire Chief Peter Baillie said Schwanke punctured a lung, had several contusions and probably needed surgery on his elbow.

Colorado State Patrol trooper David McKee cited Schwanke for careless driving and consuming alcohol as a minor, although he said he did not charge the teen with driving under the influence.

"He admitted to having a beer earlier in the day, but I couldn't determine it was an impairment," McKee said.

The trooper said Schwanke's wreck was due to a lack of experience and a lack of sleep.

"He said he was swerving to avoid a porcupine, but I couldn't find any tire marks on the road that usually go along with a quick reaction like that," McKee said. "He may have been drowsy, but he said he remembers the whole thing."

Schwanke was headed north on Elk River Road from a friend's house in Steamboat when he went off the right side of the road and traveled 123 feet in a ditch before striking a tree. The truck then rolled one and a half times before coming to rest in the ditch.

McKee said the teen told him he was driving 50 mph in a 45 mph zone. Because of the extreme damage to the truck, McKee said Schwanke may have been driving faster than what he admitted to.

Baillie said a seat belt probably saved Schwanke's life.

"If he had been unbelted, he would have been thrown," McKee said.


-- To reach Michelle Bales call 871-4208 or e-mail mbales@amigo.net

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