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Pickup slams into empty cattle rig

Tue., July 24, 2007

A 62-year-old Greenacres man was seriously injured in a fiery crash that closed Highway 53 west of Rathdrum for hours Monday morning.

Aaron Davaz crossed the centerline in a 2004 Dodge Dakota pickup around 8:45 a.m. and hit a cattle truck nearly head on, Idaho State Police Lt. Chris Schenck said.

The semitruck – which was not carrying cattle at the time of the crash – burst into flames as it veered off the road, Schenck said.

Driver Justin Assie, 25, of Alberta, Canada, was able to get out of the truck and suffered only minor injuries.

The cattle truck was destroyed.

Davaz had to be freed from the wreckage of his pickup.

He was flown by helicopter to Kootenai Medical Center, stabilized there, then flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

A sheriff’s deputy helping at the scene was overcome by heat and taken to the hospital, where he was treated for heat exhaustion, Kootenai County sheriff’s Capt. Ben Wolfinger said.

Traffic was closed between Greensferry and McGuire roads for several hours following the crash.

Black smoke billowing from the semitruck could be seen for miles.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

Both men were wearing their seat belts.

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