On Friday, June 15, 2018 at approximately 9:41 p.m., Idaho State Police investigated a two-vehicle, injury crash on US Highway 20 at milepost 379, near the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway, four miles south of Island Park.
Due to a herd of elk crossing the highway, traffic in both directions had slowed or stopped. Travis Rydberg, 40, of Billings, Montana, was driving a 2014 GMC Sierra pulling a trailer with a boat. Rydberg’s vehicle was stopped in the northbound lane. Shawn Ellestad, 51, of Laurel, Montana, was driving south in a 2008 Buick Lacrosse.
s southbound traffic was slowing to stop for the animals, Ellestad moved to the passing lane. Ellestad did not slow for the animals in time and swerved to miss them. Ellestad’s vehicle struck one elk, then crossed into oncoming traffic, and struck Rydberg’s vehicle head on.
Ellestad was flown by air ambulance to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls. His passengers, Kathryn Ellestad, 48, and Fred Winters, 47, both of Laurel, Montana were transported by ground ambulance to EIRMC as well. None of the three were wearing seat belts.
Rydberg and one of his passengers, Daniel Joseph, 52, of Atlanta, Georgia were transported by ground ambulance to Madison Memorial Hospital in Rexburg. Both Rydberg and his passenger were wearing seat belts. A second passenger in Rydberg’s vehicle, Jesse Miller, 36, of Boone, North Carolina, was not injured.
Highway 20 was blocked at the scene of the crash for just under 3 hours.