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Park City teen killed in weekend crash ID'd; statewide fatalities remain in decline

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A 16-year-old boy died over the weekend in a car wreck west of Laurel.

Marshall Tucker Edwards, of Park City, died by drowning after the sedan he was driving went off the road along Old U.S. Highway 10 West, Deputy Yellowstone County Coroner Matt Hoffman told the Gazette on Wednesday. A passenger, another 16-year-old boy, was injured in the crash.

Edwards was traveling in a Honda Accord west on the road late on the night of September 16. The roads were reportedly slick from rainfall. Just after midnight, according to a statement from Montana Highway Patrol, the Honda went off the right side of the road, between 27th Avenue West an Golf Course Road.

The car came back onto the road, and slid sideways off the left side of the payment. It rotated and struck a tree, stopping on its hood in pool of water. Both teens were wearing seat belts at the time of the crash.

While the wreck is estimated to have occurred just after midnight, his time of death is recorded at 2:45 a.m., after first responders were able to find the car. The 16-year-old passenger was taken to a Billings hospital for treatment. Speed is suspected to have been a factor in the crash, which remains under investigation by MHP.

The crash over the weekend is the first fatal wreck to occur in Yellowstone County in over a month. Statewide, fatal crashes have been trending down compared to the past three years. Despite a horrific pileup outside of Hardin earlier this year which killed six people, MHP is reporting about a 20% overall decline in deadly crashes, Sgt. Jay Nelson said, down from this same time in 2021, 2020 and 2019. 

"2022 is interesting. Because of that decline in fatalities, we are seeing a decline in those causal factors," Nelson said. Causal factors include speeding and driving under the influence. 

The state's fatalities through the first half of 2022 dropped when compared to the previous year as well, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimating a 30% decrease in deadly crashes in Montana. Nationwide, fatal crashes consistently increased on a quarter-by-quarter basis since the fall of 2020. After seven quarters, according to a report published this week, NHTSA is projecting fatalities to finally decline for the second quarter of 2022.

As of Wednesday, Nelson said, 154 people had died in crashes on Montana's roads. Of those fatal crashes, 63 occurred between Memorial Day and Labor Day, a time when serious crashes peak nationally. During that period, MHP responded to nearly 3,550 crashes and issued 309 DUIs. 

Going into autumn and winter, Nelson said serious crashes tend to decrease while minor crashes experience an uptick. Motorists are typically driving slower, but they're also more likely to be driving over slick roads, he said. 

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Tara Janet Sinkler and Dustin Blair Jolliffe died August 4 and 5, respectively, due to blunt force trauma, Yellowstone County Deputy Coroner Rich Hoffman said Tuesday. At least six people have been killed while driving in and around Billings so far this summer, the majority of whom were riding motorcycles. 

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