Woman dies after her car hits tree Driver told police she'd fallen asleep

March 30, 1993|By Bill Talbott | Bill Talbott,Staff Writer

A Westminster woman, who told rescuers she fell asleep at the wheel just before her car crashed into a tree near Melrose yesterday, died on the way to Carroll County General Hospital, police said.

Heidi Byers, 31, was trapped in her Chevrolet Cavalier for more than 30 minutes and remained conscious for a short time while rescue workers from the Manchester and Lineboro fire companies labored to remove her from the wreckage.

Manchester Fire Chief Steve Miller said, "We had to cut the roof off and then do a -- roll [pull the dashboard away with a hook] and cut the steering wheel in half to pull the car away from her before we could get her out."

State police Tfc. J.W. Long said Ms. Byers was driving south on Bachmans Valley Road at Ebbvale Road about 12:30 p.m.

The car crossed the center line of the wet road and ran off the left side and across a lawn, almost paralleling the road.

Investigators said the car went about 195 feet before hitting a 4-by-6-inch log that formed a border for mulch around several trees on the lawn of R.A. Perry, in the 1900 block of Bachmans Valley Road.

The car continued another 45 feet before hitting a 40-foot-tall tulip poplar tree with a 14-inch trunk, knocking it partially out of the ground.

Ms. Byers, who suffered multiple severe injuries, apparently went into cardiac arrest in the medic unit, according to fire officials.

Mark McLaughlin, who lives next door, told police he and his son were waiting at the end of his driveway for the school bus when the car crashed about 125 feet north of them.

Mr. McLaughlin said he expected the crash when he heard the sound of tires running on a road change to that of a car crossing wet grass. He said he ran into the house to call 911.

Police said the front-left wheel of the Cavalier was pushed back to the center of the driver's door and the engine was skewed into the area where a passenger would sit.

The metal of the car body was pushed into the driver's compartment by the impact, police said.

Rescue workers had to use the "jaws of life" tool to cut off the roof and pull open the doors.

They placed a hook under the --board to roll it away from the trapped driver.

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