Four injured in chain-reaction Sunday crashes

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ELMIRA — Four people were injured Sunday in a chain-reaction collision that brought traffic on U.S. Highway 95 to a standstill for more than four hours

Idaho State Police said Jesse J. Uanino was northbound when he slowed for a left-turning vehicle. Uanino’s 2003 Chevrolet Blazer was struck from behind by a northbound 2012 Volkswagen Beetle driven by Edgar Farnham. That collision pushed the Uanino’s sport utility vehicle into the southbound lane were it was struck by an oncoming Nissan Maxima driven by Chad T. Blake.

Uanino, 35, of Hicksville, New York, was not wearing a seatbelt, according to Idaho State Police. He was evacuated from the scene in a helicopter and flown to Kootenai Health in Coeur d’Alene.

A passenger in Uanino’s SUV, Celesta F. Collacci, 27, was taken via terrestrial ambulance to Bonner General. Farnham, 77, of Troy, Mont., was driven to Kootenai Health. Blake, 36, of Yakima, Wash., and passenger Jodee L. Blake, 41, were taken by ambulance to Bonner General, state police said.

The sequence of crashes completely blocked the highway for approximately four and a half hours.

Three Bonner County EMS and one Selkirk Fire Rescue & EMS were pressed into service during the call.

“The traffic backup was so unusual for this area. It was so lengthy in both time and distance,” said Bonner EMS spokesman Bob Abbott.

Northside Fire Chief Brad Mitton attributed the extended traffic delay to the debris clean-up and the ISP investigation.

“It was quite a mess out there,” said Mitton.

Abbott said Bonner General diverted one of the patients to Kootenai Health because the Sandpoint hospital happened to be so busy on Sunday.

“In 12 years, that’s the first time I recall seeing that,” he said.

Responders to the call included Northside and South Boundary fire districts, Bonner EMS, Selkirk Fire Rescue & EMS, ISP, Bonner County sheriff’s officials and personnel from the Idaho Transportation Department.

Mitton thanked fellow responders for the their cooperation and the help passersby rendered at the scene.

Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.

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