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Troopers busy responding to road rage, collisions in Teton County


By Kate Ready
Jackson Hole News&Guide
Via- Wyoming News Exchange

JACKSON — The Wyoming Highway Patrol said it has been a busy week responding to road rage incidents and collisions with injuries.

In what Trooper Mike Merritt described as “the strangest call I’ve ever been on,” sheriff’s deputies eventually stopped a 44-year-old Aurora, Colorado, man driving northbound through the Snake River Canyon after 911 received 17 calls from other motorists who said he kept trying to hit oncoming traffic.

The first call came in around 10:40 p.m. on Tuesday, Merritt said.

At one point, eyewitnesses said that the driver, later identified as Ramon Chavez Cruz, parked his truck in the middle of the highway, got out and started yelling, “Why are you following me?” before getting back in his vehicle.

Shortly after, one vehicle containing three Florida residents was run off the road by Cruz while they were traveling southbound, Merritt said. The driver’s back was broken, and the passengers sustained neck and head injuries. 

Cruz continued on, however, also trying to “head-on” a Teton County sheriff’s deputy before he was stopped near Horse Creek on Highway 89.

Cruz is facing a litany of charges in Teton and Lincoln counties, ranging from traffic offenses to aggravated assault.

“It’s not something you see very often,” Merritt said.

Merritt said Colorado police were not familiar with Cruz. Troopers are still working to track the vehicle he was driving, which did not possess license plates or registration.

Cruz declined to participate in sobriety tests. Merritt said evidence of “Delta-8 THC” packaging was found in the vehicle, leading him to speculate that the driver may have been hallucinating.

Then, around 11 a.m. Wednesday, troopers responded to the Emily’s Pond area after an 18-year-old Driggs, Idaho, man reportedly had a seizure behind the wheel of his SUV and drove off the road toward the Snake River.

Trooper Andy Jackson said the man was heading west when the seizure occurred near Emily’s Pond. His vehicle went 300 feet onto the bike path and down toward the Snake River. It rolled over, ending up on its roof “quite a ways” from the river’s edge, according to Jackson.

There was no evidence of the man braking, Jackson said, which backed up the driver’s statement that he experienced the medical event. The man was transported to St. John’s Health, where Jackson expected him to be released after being treated for minor injuries.

“If someone falls asleep or they’re impaired, they hit the brakes,” Jackson said. “But there was no braking whatsoever. He stated that every couple of months he has these [seizures].”

Jackson said that he found no signs of substance abuse or impairment.

“The pathway was crowded, so it was fortunate that no one was hit or around,” Jackson said. “It happened at a perfect time where there wasn’t anyone in the pathway.”

While the Jackson Hole Daily was speaking with Jackson, another state trooper was responding to a call from within Grand Teton National Park for an intoxicated driver near Moran who reportedly hit a construction worker.

Construction vehicles on-site boxed the Florida driver in, Trooper Tyler Smith said, to prevent his exit, but the driver of the Dodge pickup was able to flee.

The man struck by the vehicle reported an arm injury but was otherwise OK, Smith said.

Sgt. John Faicco of the Teton County Sheriff’s Office said the driver was detained at the Moose Ranger Station at 2:30 p.m. That investigation is active.

Another alleged road rage incident was reported Sunday around 2 p.m. after a Teton County woman told sheriff’s deputies that a 27-year-old Victor, Idaho, man followed her from Teton Pass down Fall Creek Road and fired a shot at her while she was driving away. The man has been charged with felony aggravated assault and battery, as well as reckless endangering, a misdemeanor. That case is pending.

“Every day there’s some kind of road rage,” Jackson said. “Every year it seems to get worse.”

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