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Report: Semitruck driver didn’t stop, causing I-84 wreck that killed him, 3 others

Inattention by a semitruck driver on Interstate 84 likely caused the fiery crash that led to the June deaths of the driver and three airmen from Mountain Home Air Force Base, according to a crash report issued Wednesday by the Idaho State Police.

The report says:

Illya D. Tsar, 42, of Rochester, New York, was traveling east on the freeway at 11:32 p.m. on June 16 when he failed to stop and struck a 2008 Jeep Wrangler carrying the airmen. The Jeep and other vehicles were stopped ahead of a construction zone where three of the four eastbound lanes were closed off in stages.

Tsar, who was driving for Krujex Freight Transport Corp., drove his 2019 Volvo semitractor-trailer truck into the back of the Jeep, driven by Senior Airman Carlos Johnson, 23, a Key West, Florida, resident stationed at Mountain Home Air Force base. Johnson was killed along with passengers Senior Airman Lawrence P. Manlapit III, 26, of Bridgeport, Connecticut, and Senior Airman Karlie A. Westall, 21, of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Johnson’s Jeep, while still being pushed by the Volvo, then struck the back of a 2003 Volvo semitruck driven by Roman Zhuk, 35, of Vancouver, Washington.

Zhuk’s truck sideswiped a 2006 Ford Fusion driven by Toina M. Jorgensen, 35, of Nampa. Jorgensen and a passenger, Erika L. Medina, 25, of Nampa, were treated at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center.

Jorgensen’s Ford rear-ended a 2014 Ford F-150 pickup driven by Gerald S. Shumway, 69, of Boise, and sideswiped a 2015 Ford Escape driven by Fernando D. Nitu, 33, of Nampa.

Debris from Tsar’s truck struck a 2010 Ford Focus driven by Rachel Colburn, 19, of Boise.

The crash caused Tsar’s truck to be engulfed in flames. The fire, which occurred underneath the Cloverdale Road overpass, damaged the overpass. The Idaho Transportation Department plans to replace it.

The ISP report does not say whether road work that led to the closure of three of the four eastbound lanes contributed to the crash.

ITD said the contractor, The Penhall Co., of Anaheim, California, followed a safety plan developed under federal guidelines. Penhall employees were working to fill seams between slabs of concrete on a 3-mile stretch of I-84 between Five Mile Road and Orchard Street. That started a mile east of the crash site.

John Sowell: 208-377-6423, @johnwsowell

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