blamed in 1 death, 2 collisions
Two workers were struck by a car, one fatally, and a pickup hit a school
bus, injuring 12, in separate southwest Iowa incidents.
REGISTER STAFF WRITER
say the morning sun temporarily blinded a teenager whose car struck two
men, fatally injuring one of them, in Greenfield.
The sun was also blamed for a collision between a pickup truck and school
bus that injured a dozen elementary school students near Coin.
"I've seen sun glare before, but this was exceptional. The sun looked
like it was about three inches off the road," Greenfield Police Chief
Austin O'Brien said Friday. "I know it was a factor, no doubt in my
mind. You get to a certain point of the road and it hits you all of a
This is the time of year when the sun's glare is particularly dangerous
for drivers and pedestrians.
Ralph Bouwmeester, a Canadian
safety consultant and recognized expert on the challenges that sunshine
and shadows pose for motorists, said the problem is at its worst for two
or three weeks before and after Sept. 4 and April 6, when the morning and
afternoon sun aligns with east-west roads. (See
September 16, 2004, Register article.)
Thursday's accident in Greenfield happened about 7:15 a.m. as Steve Forcht,
51, of Stuart, and Cory Queck, 34, of Fontanelle, removed a tarp from a
truck at the glass company where they work.
"They were at the side of the road, between the trailer and the
highway, possibly on the highway," O'Brien said. An eastbound car
driven by Jennifer Johnston, 16, of Greenfield struck the men.
Forcht was killed. Queck was taken to a Des Moines hospital. He was
expected to be released late Friday or today.
No charges were filed.
The bus crash
occurred about the same time when the pickup, driven by Gaylen Swanson,
51, of Coin, struck the back of a South Page school district bus that had
stopped in front of a home, Iowa State Trooper Shawn McCunn said.
Swanson "reported that the sun was in his eyes and he did not see the
school bus stop," McCunn said.
There were 24 students on the bus. Twelve were taken to area hospitals and
treated for minor injuries.
Swanson also was treated for minor injuries. The driver of the bus was
Officials in Greenfield were back at the crash site on Friday.
"You come up the hill and at a certain point it looks like an atomic
explosion," O'Brien said. "It even blinded me when I was going
out to the accident."
Jim Miller, one of the owners of the glass company, called Forcht "a
very popular employee, in a good mood all the time, always smiling."
Forcht worked for the company 18 years as maintenance manager.
"We have over 600 people here, and everybody liked Steve,"
Miller said. "Everyone is very sorry, depressed and sad."
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