Two Teton County residents were killed last week in separate traffic accidents on U.S. Highway 287 between Choteau and Augusta, according to the Montana Highway Patrol and Teton and Lewis and Clark County sheriff’s offices.
The first accident was reported at about 2:40 a.m. on July 4 in Teton County. The MHP says the 21-year-old Choteau driver, identified as Jordan Jacob “J.J.” Werdal by Teton County Sheriff/Coroner Keith VanSetten, died from injuries sustained in a one-vehicle rollover about seven miles southwest of Choteau.
The MHP said that Werdal was southbound, driving a full-size pickup truck, and attempted to negotiate a left hand curve going up Seven Mile Hill. The pickup went off the right (west) side of the highway and rolled repeatedly, coming to rest on its side in the borrow pit.
Werdal was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected from the vehicle, landing in a field on the west side of the road, the MHP said. He was taken by ambulance to Benefis Teton Medical Center in Choteau where he was pronounced dead.
The MHP said speed and alcohol are suspected factors in the wreck, which happened on bare, dry roads.
VanSetten said some contestants heading to the Choteau 4th of July rodeo came upon the wreck and reported it to the Sheriff’s Office. The dispatcher sent out the Choteau ambulance, deputies, the Choteau Volunteer Fire Department and the MHP.
The MHP also reported that a 56-year-old Dutton man, identified as Michael Dauwalder by the Lewis and Clark County coroner, was killed in another single-vehicle accident northeast of Augusta on U.S. Highway 287 on July 5 in Lewis and Clark County.
The Lewis and Clark County dispatch contacted the MHP to respond to the accident at 6:31 a.m., according to the MHP.
The MHP said Dauwalder was alone in his passenger sedan, northbound on U.S. Highway 287. He ran off the right (east) side of the road and collided with a delineator post. His vehicle continued down an embankment and collided with two trees.
The Augusta ambulance and Lewis and Clark County deputy also responded to the accident. Dauwalder, who was wearing his seatbelt, was declared deceased at the scene, the MHP said.
Alcohol and drugs are not suspected as factors in the accident, but speed is suspected, the MHP said.