Parents blame sun glare for crash that injured teens

Police say they're investigating conflicting reports of what happened on Idaho 55.

kterhune@idahostatesman.comNovember 26, 2013 

A Meridian mother says it's a "miracle" that four teenagers who were hurt in a Saturday afternoon crash on Idaho 55 suffered only minor injuries.

The wreck happened when 17-year-old Makaylah Griffin pulled her Nissan Xterra onto the roadside near Horseshoe Bend Hill to switch drivers. Police say that the teen did not use a turnout, and part of the car was overhanging the highway when it was hit from behind.

But her mother, Jana Griffin, said the teen made the right decision.

"The sun was shining so bright in their eyes going up that road they could hardly see," she said. "She got nervous, being 17, and she pulled over to that right-hand side feeling like that would be the safest thing."

Makaylah turned on her blinker and hazard lights and asked her passenger, 18-year-old Christian McIntosh of Meridian, if he would take a turn driving, Jana Griffin said. McIntosh was outside the vehicle preparing to get into the driver's seat when the car was hit from behind by a van driven by 71-year-old Edsel Martin of Caldwell.

Leslie Birkinbine, McIntosh's mother, said the impact threw him 15 feet down the roadway. Idaho State Police said it was Makaylah's car that struck the teen as he walked in front of it, but Birkinbine and Jana Griffin both maintain that Martin's van hit McIntosh as he stood by the Xterra's driver's-side door. Police said Monday evening that they were investigating conflicting reports.

The collision sent McIntosh, Griffin and two passengers to the hospital. Martin was not hurt.

"[McIntosh] has literally got cuts and bruises over his whole entire body," Birkinbine said. But he escaped without any broken bones, and none of the cuts required stitches.

None of the other teens were seriously injured in the crash, Jana Griffin said.

"They all are sore, but they are totally fine," she said. "We're thankful that everyone's OK."

Nearby, a second wreck occurred when 40-year-old Andrew McFarland spotted the collision and slowed. He was rear-ended by 19-year-old Kendall Gregory of Boise, police say. Gregory and a passenger were also sent to a hospital; information on their conditions was not available Monday.

Griffin said she believed her daughter did the right thing by pulling over, even if there was not enough room to get completely off the road. She noted that driver education classes advise drivers to pull over if they are uncomfortable.

Birkinbine agreed.

"As parents, we're thinking that if she couldn't see and [the glare] was making her dizzy, it's probably the best thing that she did pull over," she said.

ISP spokeswoman Teresa Baker said police have not issued any citations, pending the completion of the investigation.

She said that stopping with part of the vehicle in the roadway can be dangerous.

"We would recommend pulling completely off the side of the road," she said. But she acknowledged that drivers can face a difficult decison if they feel impaired by conditions and there is not enough room to get completely out of the lane of travel.

Martin also told police that the sun was in his eyes when the crash happened, Baker said.

Birkinbine said Martin should have slowed down if he was blinded by the glare, but Griffin said it was merely an unfortunate circumstance.

"I'm not blaming anyone but the sun," Griffin said. "It's not a blame situation as far as I'm concerned. It's an accident."

Katie Terhune: 377-6219

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