By Tim Eberly
Three Havre teenagers were injured in a car accident four miles north of Havre on Friday afternoon as they returned from a youth group ski trip.
The occupants of four vehicles three vans and one Jeep Cherokee were on a 90-mile trip home from the Hidden Valley ski resort about 5 p.m. Friday when the Cherokee veered off Route 232 and flipped several times, according to one of the vehicles' passengers. A total of 25 people from the Assembly of God youth group were in the four vehicles.
Two boys, both juniors at Havre High, were ejected about 20 feet from the car and landed in a plowed field. Neither of them was wearing a seat belt. One of the boys' seat belts was broken, said Marvin Franson, who was ejected from the vehicle.
The cause of the accident is unclear. Franson, 17, said he does not have full memory of the accident but thought a flat tire could have caused the accident. Nathan Reitan, who was with nine other passengers in a van in front of the Cherokee, said the driver of the Cherokee, Ryan Juers, suffered a concussion earlier in the day while skiing and may have inadvertently fallen asleep at the wheel.
Sixteen-year-old Ryan Safley, who was sitting in the back of the Cherokee, was ejected through the right back window, said Franson.
Safley suffered several broken ribs, a broken jaw and collarbone and internal bruising and bleeding, said Reitan. He is in serious condition in the intensive care unit at Northern Montana Hospital, according to hospital spokeswoman Kathie Newell.
Franson suffered a dislocated and partially fractured left elbow, and has been released from the hospital. His seat belt was not functional, he said.
Juers's head cracked the windshield and he suffered a deep, 6-inch gash on his head, said Reitan.
"I can't really say much about it," Franson said. "I'm really lucky and so are the other two for not getting killed. First I remember flipping end over end. Then I don't remember anything until I was flying in the air and landing on the ground."
The car veered into the northbound lane and ran into an embankment, forcing the car to flip four times, said Reitan. It flipped end over end twice and sideways another two times, he said. The vehicle came to a stop on its wheels in a ditch facing the road.
The occupants of the vehicle behind the Cherokee notified authorities immediately.