A rollover early Saturday morning claimed the life of a Hemingford north of Scottsbluff on Highway 71 between Lake Minatare Road and Experiment Farm Road.
Chief Deputy Troy Brown with the Scottsbluff County Sheriff’s Office said that at 4:22 a.m., the Sheriff’s Office received a report of a vehicle being parked in a field.
“Shortly after that, we got a call from another motorist who said the car looked like it had been wrecked,” said Brown. “A deputy was dispatched, and when the deputy arrived on scene, he found the driver had been ejected, and the vehicle had in fact been involved in a rollover.”
The driver of the vehicle was Daniel McDonough, 17, of Hemingford. Brown said McDonough had severe head injuries, and was developing hypothermia when he was located. He was transported to Regional West Medical Center, where he died from his injuries.
“The accident probably happened shortly after that, because it’s not very far from Walmart to the accident scene,” said Brown. “He would have been exposed to the elements for approximately an hour, or an hour and a half before he was discovered.”
Brown explained that, through an investigation, they determined McDonough had left Walmart in Scottsbluff just after 3 a.m. He was driving a 2006 Pontiac Grand Prix that belonged to his brother’s girlfriend. Brown explained that McDonough had taken the vehicle without permission to travel to Walmart in order to purchase airtime for his phone.
Brown noted that McDonough’s brother was unaware that the vehicle had been taken until they were notified.
The cause of the accident, Brown explained, is unknown, though he said there were skid marks on the road indicating an abrupt steering change. Brown said they do not suspect the use of alcohol or drugs, but he noted that McDonough was not wearing his seat belt.
“He went across the road and into the ditch, and that’s when the vehicle rolled several times,” said Brown. “We don’t know if he was swerving for an animal, or was reaching for something in the cab and inadvertently pulled the wheel. The damage to the vehicle was minuscule. It was easily a survivable accident had the occupant been wearing his seat belt and not been ejected; he would have been totally fine.”
Other agencies involved in the response to the wreck and the investigation include Scottsbluff Rural and City Fire Departments, Valley Ambulance, the Gering Police Department, the Alliance Police Department, and the Hemingford Police Department.