Medical emergency might have caused fatal Libby crash

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Taylor Ray Alford, 31, of Missoula was killed 5:07 p.m. Thursday after crashing into a light post at Highway 2 and Idaho Avenue in Libby. Investigators are looking into whether a medical emergency was the cause. (Ben Kibbey/The Western News)

Montana Highway Patrol is investigating whether a medical emergency contributed to a high-speed crash that killed a Missoula man in downtown Libby Thursday evening.

Drugs or alcohol were not considered factors Friday, pending toxicology results from the Montana State Crime Lab, according to MHP Capt. Duane K. Bowers.

Taylor Ray Alford, 31, was killed 5:07 p.m. Thursday when his car crashed into an overhead traffic light post at the intersection of Highway 2 and Idaho Avenue in Libby.

Moments before, Alford reportedly had accelerated to about 100 mph in the 25-mph zone in front of Rosauers before crossing into the opposite lanes of traffic and then swerving to the right across all four lanes before striking the light post and catching fire, wrote Bowers in a Friday morning news release.

“We are very fortunate that no additional vehicles, pedestrians or motorists were involved in this incident, especially considering the volume of traffic on the roadway at that time,” he wrote.

Bowers provided a timeline of the moments leading up to the crash.

MHP Sgt. Neil Duram and Trooper Bryce Ford were taking measurements at the scene of a car vs. person crash that killed a Libby man earlier Thursday on Highway 2 near milepost 21, when several passing motorists told them a possibly intoxicated driver had just driven through the crash scene.

Witnesses told the Troopers that the black car — a Volkswagen Jetta — had been traveling east from Troy at a high rate of speed, crossing both lanes of traffic and running other motorists off the road.

Duram and Ford returned to their cars and drove east toward Libby. About the same time, Libby Police Sgt. Darren Short and Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputy Boyd White drove west from Libby to try to find and stop the car.

Duram and Ford caught up to the car as it entered the four-lane, 50-mph zone west of Libby, yet the car failed to stop. It continued speeding east, weaving through traffic as it approached downtown.

Short and White pulled in behind the Jetta as it passed them, yet it still didn’t yield to their lights and sirens.

The car then accelerated in front of Rosauers before crashing and catching fire.

“The fire was quickly extinguished by law enforcement officers on the scene and several local business owners who quickly responded with fire extinguishers and assisted in the fire suppression effort,” Bowers wrote.

Alford was wearing a seatbelt, but Bowers wrote at the speed he was driving it “would have no positive effect.”

The crash was still being investigated Friday, Bowers wrote.

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