by nathan oster
Two people died and two others were injured in a one-vehicle accident that occurred west of Greybull on Saturday afternoon.
Rachel Yenny, 53, was pronounced dead at the scene, while Yeraldine Payano, 15 and a sophomore at Greybull High School, died late Monday evening at a hospital in Billings. She had been life-flighted a short time after the pickup truck she was driving left U.S. Highway 14-16-20 near milepost 99, which is approximately two miles west of the Lovell turnoff.
Trooper Todd Hardesty of the Wyoming Highway Patrol said two other occupants in the vehicle survived the crash. Cesar Payano, Rachel’s husband and Yeraldine’s father, was transported by air along with his daughter to a hospital in Billings. The other occupant, identified only as a 17-year-old girl, was transported by ground ambulance to Billings, he said.
Hardesty said his investigation determined that Payano was behind the wheel, her father Cesar was in the front passenger seat, and that Rachel Yenny and the 17-year-old girl were in the back seat.
Yenny and the Payano were both ejected from the vehicle, according to Hardesty. The other two were not and were able to get out of the vehicle on their own before passers-by arrived on scene to assist. When contacted Monday, Hardesty said he could not say for certain whether Cesar Payano and the 17-year-old girl were wearing their seatbelts.
The Wyoming Highway Patrol’s accident narrative, compiled from statements provided by a passenger and evidence collected at the scene, stated that the vehicle was eastbound on U.S. 14/16/20 when Cesar Payano told his daughter that she needed to buckle her seat belt.
The narrative continues, “(Payano) attempted to buckle the seat belt, but started drifting to the right. (She) corrected to the left, crossed the centerline, then over-corrected to the right. (The vehicle) then went into a broadside skid, went off the right side of the roadway, tripped and rolled at least two times before coming to a rest on all four wheels.”
A funeral service for Yenny and Payano is planned for Friday, Oct. 13 at 10 a.m. at the Greybull High School auditorium. Full obituaries appear on page 6 of this issue.
Principal Ty Flock described mood of the high school as “very somber” on Tuesday morning. “I suspect it will be for quite some time.”
Many students and staff members woke to the news that Yeraldine had died during the evening hours in Billings. A sophomore, Yeraldine had made the honor roll as a freshman and was a member of the GHS volleyball team this fall.
Students organized an effort to get everyone in the building to wear green on Monday because it was Yeraldine’s favorite color. Students in Lovell and Worland reportedly followed suit, all of them rallying in support of Yeraldine.
“It’s a very emotional day,” said Flock. “A lot of students have been affected by this. All of the volleyball team, of course, and her friends, too.”
Flock said all of the district’s counselors were summoned to the building on Tuesday to help grieving students deal with their loss.