Swiss girl remains in critical condition after ambulance-minivan collision

Stock image; photo does not represent the accident in the attached report | Image by St. George News

Updated 10:36 a.m. to include status of Daniela Affolter and Nicola Affolter.

ST. GEORGE – Yesterday evening an ambulance from Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz. traveling westbound on Utah state Route 9 at an estimated speed of 60 mph collided with a Dodge Caravan on 3400 West by Wal-Mart in Hurricane City. The minivan was traveling through the intersection on a green light. Impact speed was estimated at 45-50 mph. There were multiple injuries, most critical being those sustained by an 8-year-old from Switzerland.

The ambulance, a Ford F450 4-door with stand-up medical unit, was driven by EMT Lizze Barlow of Colorado City and was carrying seven people. It was transporting a stroke victim, Ben Barlow, to Intermountain Healthcare’s Dixie Regional Medical Center, and carried the patient’s wife, Martha Barlow, and EMTs and paramedics treating the patient, Dan Barlow, Micah Barlow, Jesse Barlow, and Fawnetta Barlow.

The minivan was a rental out of California and carried four people from Switzerland. It was driven by Christian Affolter; his passengers included his family, Daniela Affolter in the front, 8-year-old Serena Affolter in the rear passenger seat behind the driver’s seat, and 12-year-old Nicola Affolter in the rear passenger seat on the right.

As the minivan entered the intersection on a green light, and began making a left turn to go eastbound, the ambulance entered the intersection going westbound and T-boned the minivan.

The rear passenger door of the minivan took the majority of the impact, causing 8-year-old Serena extremely critical injuries. She was not breathing but had a pulse and was transported to Dixie Regional by ambulance, where an airway was established for her. She was then transported by Life Flight helicopter to University Medical Center in Las Vegas. Utah Highway Patrol trooper Dan Altenes said Sunday morning that the hospital reports Serena remains in critical condition, she is not breathing on her own, has a fractured leg as well as head injuries, her blood pressure and heartbeat are strong; there is no additional prognosis at this time.

Nicola Affolter, 12, suffered a lacerated spleen. Daniela Affolter, the mother, suffered a dislocated shoulder. Both Nicola and Daniela remain at Dixie Regional Sunday, Daniela is expected to be released later today. And Christian Affolter, the driver and father, suffered a laceration to the forehead. Christian accompanied his daughter Serena to Las Vegas in the helicopter.

Those in the ambulance also suffered injuries: Dan Barlow suffered a dislocated shoulder, Micah Barlow a minor hip injury, Jesse Barlow a minor rib injury and the stroke victim being transported, Ben Barlow, suffered a laceration to the forehead and received stitches. All other EMTs and the stroke patient’s wife, Martha, were treated and released at Dixie Regional.

Ambulance Driver Lizzie Barlow was issued a citation for traffic Control Signal Violation (red light) Utah Code 41-6a-305. Altenes said he did not know if any additional charges would be brought, that being the purview of the county attorney.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @JoyceKuzmanic

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.

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  • Cathy July 29, 2012 at 9:24 am

    The driver of the ambulance was ONLY issued a citation? If the accident happened the other way around then the driver of the mini van would have been arrested for reckless driving and causing an accident!!!!!

    I understand the driver of the ambulance was in a hurry because the stroke their FAMILY MEMBER suffered MUST have been life threatening, most likely not, but an ambulance driver should still be held responsible for their actions while driving. If the little girl does not make it then I truly hope that the ambulance driver will be held responsible and sent to jail as any other ordinary citizen would be.

    As an ambulance driver for many years in California, the reckless driving in this case should never be tolerated by law enforcement. It should not matter if you are transporting 6 family members or someone else, you are still required to drive responsibly and not endanger the lives of innocent people. Shame on you!!!!!!!

    My heart goes out to the innocent family from Switzerland and I will keep your family in my prayers. Oh, in case you don’t know, there will probably no zero consequences to the ambulance driver because you were visiting Washington County and that is how it works here. I am so, so sorry!!!!

  • A July 29, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    The way I see it this is all a bad situation. However Cathy just cause they all have the last name doesn’t mean they were related maybe she was just doing her job. Second speed limit is 55 mph so she obviously wasn’t driving to recklessly . Third off last I checked you are supposed to yield to emergency vehicles . So why didn’t the other drivers yield ? Why didn’t they get a ticket? I’m sure there is a lot of other questions with no answers do personally I think we should all be grateful that it isn’t worse than it already is and pray and hope those all involved make a good recovery . Instead of bashing people ( especially one that may be feeling horrible that it happened) and be positive and give hope! Your very negative and I hope if a family member of yours has a stoke and you better not expect an e m ts to hurry on your family members account. If you are a so called e m t you would understand the circumstances and look at it from all points and not to mention you would know accidents happen ! You would also realize that it takes over an hour to get from colorado city to drmc …..So before u go bashing maybe put yourself in others situations. And no I’m not a plig or related to anybody mentioned. I just think sometimes people would do better to keep there trap shut instead of speaking bad about people going through hard times

    • Dsull July 30, 2012 at 4:35 pm

      Being as how the ambulance driver did not follow the law, I would say Cathy was spot on. Just because they are in an emergency vehicle does not give them permission to break the traffic laws. Maybe you should read up on the laws before you go off on someone. If you need a refresher I posted the law below.

    • Not a Mormon July 30, 2012 at 4:49 pm

      …..They’re from Colorado City…….they’re ALL related
      Vehicles in the intersection (like the victim here) have the right of way to clear the intersection. Even lights and sirens emergency vehicles need to slow down and stop if necessary at red lights. They don’t have a pass to go 100 mph where ever they want.
      omg ‘A’ the more I read the more I want to smash my head into the keyboard. Please go away. Ambulances need to follow the rules, without emotion, just like the rest of us. Check your emotions at the door or stay off the interwebz. It’s not a nice place.

  • zacii July 29, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    I thought emergency vehicles have the right of way?

    Did the ambulance not have its lights and sirens on, was it not an emergency transport?

  • Will July 29, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    its pretty sad that this happend to a family i imagine that were on vacation visiting these beautiful sites around here. let me also say that as many ppl dont know that ambulances and all other emergency vehicles have to obey traffic lights and rules! this is what happens when they dont. i know many ppl that have stated that hildale EMS drive like crazy ppl around so it was no surprise to hear this had happend! i hope this is a warning to all ems and public saftey drivers to be careful and lights and siren dont mean you have a free rein to just speed and run red lights. i feel this driver should have more than just a ticket depending on the out come of the children. hope all goes well with the family!

  • San July 29, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    So, every human in the ambulance…all 7 of them… were named Barlow? And 5 of those 7 were said to be necessary EMT’s? No distractions there. What happened seems very suspect, very unnecessary. We were down there at Walmart this morning and there’s NO skidmarks on the ashpalt…not a single one. What is there is a vehicle fluid smear that travels from the center of the intersection to the light pole on the S/W side of the intersection…like something got pushed into that 18″wide steel pole, which isn’t even bent. The driver never hit her brakes. I’m betting that when tapes are reviewed, if they aren’t erased, they’ll show she was looking behind her…probably at her dad/grandfather who had just suffered the stroke. If ever an independent investigation were appropriate….

    • Not a Mormon July 30, 2012 at 4:55 pm

      Colorado city has 4 EMT’s in their vehicles at all times. 2 Men and 2 Women – that way they can work on patients without having ‘inappropriate gender issue scenarios’ and no single man or woman will ever be with the opposite sex………yeah, in the 21st century. I hate Utah.
      Also, I’ve heard told that they regularly go lights and sirens for non-emergency issues because if they can claim its an emergency then medicare/medicaid/tax dollars pay for the ambulance trip and they don’t have to out of pocket. As I’ve been told, its a regular way they scam the system – or go to Walmart with all them foodstamps.

  • Jennifer July 29, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    To Cathy,

    SHAME ON YOU for even posting this. Yes, maybe the ambulance driver should have been a little bit more careful but where is it that the public is suppose to pull over when ANY emergency vehicles are coming through I don’t care what country you are from pull the HELL over and there would not be any accidents like this…. To the other vehicle it is their fault for not yielding to an emergency vehicle. I am very sorry for their daughter and hope for a full recovery but PAY ATTENTION… to everything around you especially when you are not familiar with the area.

    • Maurus July 31, 2012 at 7:17 am

      To Jennifer
      SHAME ON YOU TOO. This has nothing to do with nationality or being familiar with an area or not. Green light is green light and one must not expect a speeding ambulance coming through a red light!! And pulling over as I understand it is possible if an emergency vehicle is going the same or opposite direction but not approaching from 90 degree angle…..

      I am from Switzerland, just returned from hols in the U.S. and having driven around quite a bit, I can tell that traffic laws in Switzerland are not different than in the U.S. but more stringently applied.

  • Hmm July 29, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    This is not the first time I have seen this ambulance agency fly through a red light. I wonder if the driver even had any training for this type of driving. If she had she would probably not go through a red light at 60 miles per hour. I don’t think law enforcement is tolerating anything. I have never seen a driver go to jail for a “traffic control signal violation”. Where I have several friends and family members who are officers I can tell you they don’t operate by protecting other public servants who do stupid things. The others doing stupid things make them look bad. Of course they are not going to protect them. Running a red light is running a red light. I don’t think you can make up another charge just because it is an ambulance.

  • Tina Forsyth July 29, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    Cathy, I don’t know if everyone in the ambulance was related as you say. There aren’t that many different surnames in the polygamous community as they don’t let in new members and the families have married their cousins for so long. Any familial relation could have been VERY distant.

    We know from the previous article that the minivan had a green light… BUT do we know if the ambulance had lights & sirens on. If so, this would have negated the minivan’s right of way, would it not, as we are supposed to YIELD to emergency vehicles with flashing lights & sirens. However, I always see emergency vehicles still slow down at intersections (red or green light), and it appears this ambulance did not.

    The other question is, IF the lights & siren were going, was this Swiss driver aware of Utah law regarding yielding to emergency vehicles? I am curious to know what the requirements are for foreign drivers when they come to our nation. Do they need a temporary driving permit to operate a vehicle? Do they need to show any knowledge of our driving laws, or are they afforded more rights and accesability to the roads as an encouragement to tourism?

    • Dsull July 30, 2012 at 4:33 pm

      To all of you who don’t know the law:

      11. Emergency vehicle drivers must make every possible effort to make their presence and
      intended actions known to other drivers, and must drive defensively to be prepared for the
      unexpected inappropriate actions of others.
      12. Department vehicles are authorized to exceed posted speed limits only when responding Code
      3 under favorable conditions. Favorable conditions include light traffic, dry – maintained roads
      and visibility not less than 1/4 mile. Under these conditions a maximum of 10 mph over the
      posted speed limit is authorized.
      13. The apparatus will not exceed a speed which is safe for existing conditions. The posted speed
      limit is the absolute maximum permissible speed when conditions do not meet the
      requirements listed in item #5.
      14. When approaching and crossing an intersection with the right-of-way, drivers shall not exceed
      the posted speed limit.
      ——->>>>>>15. Emergency vehicles must come to a complete stop before proceeding through a controlled intersection or when they must use opposing traffic lanes to approach an intersection.

      Before you go off on people make sure you have your facts straight.

    • Maurus July 31, 2012 at 7:28 am

      Belive it or not, obtaining a driving licence in Switzerland is far tougher than in the U.S.
      1. you must be 18
      2. you have to attend various cumpulsory courses (besides driving lessons)
      3. you get the licence on probation only (3 years) / one offence and its revoked

      And the traffic rules/laws are the same all over Switzerland and do not differ between the 26 Cantons (States).
      I just hope you never come to Switzerland and try to drive around. You would probably be hopelessly lost on our narrow roads and 2 lane highways.

      • Dsull July 31, 2012 at 5:26 pm

        We have traveled to Switzerland and I would agree. Though I would give the hardest place to drive award to the Philippines.
        I was pointing out that the van was obeying the law, the ambulance driver was not. The laws posted above are for Emergency vehicle drivers, not passenger cars.

  • Firefly July 30, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    This truely is a sad tragedy. I too have observed the ambulance from that area blow through red lights without even tapping on the brakes. It is unfortunate to say, but the citation is about all that the ambulance driver will have to speak for for this tragedy. To those other commentators inquiring about that driver being held responsible for her irrespnsible driving actions, let me remind you of the tragedy of a couple of years ago where the Utah Highway Patrolman was speeding in excess of 80 MPH on River Road in St. George when he plowed into the two elderly sisters turning into the their church parking lot and were killed. What happened to the officer driving that UHP vehicle? If state law holds drivers of emergency/public safety vehicles responsible for their erratic driving while on duty, what do you really think is going to happen to this ambulance driver? Let me tell you….she’ll merely pay a driving violation citation. Really, really sad.

  • Michael Sebel July 30, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    But the article fails to mention if the unit was going code 3. It still is the responsibility; of the ambulance driver to make sure it is clear and SAFE to proceed through an intersection green lite or not before proceeding.

  • Maurus July 31, 2012 at 9:45 am

    Comments from Switzerland Not welcome? What about Freedom of speach? Not Publishing my earlier comments is showing lack of neutrality on your part. Your people can bash on the Swiss but can’t face other opinions.
    What a shame.

    • Joyce Kuzmanic July 31, 2012 at 5:09 pm

      Maurus, most assuredly your comments are welcome – there may have been a delay in publishing them as we had a full day of staff meetings today, we welcome and approve comments with few exceptions.
      There are people in this community who wanted to help this family, to provide accommodations, transportation, sit with the hospitalized child, whatever was needed. Upon discharge from the hospital in St. George the family left the area, presumably to join up with the rest of their family in Las Vegas where the youngest is hospitalized.

      • Maurus August 3, 2012 at 12:03 am

        Thank you for your reply to my comment. Please accept my apologies. From our local online portals I am used to comments being posted within 20 minutes. I know that comments need to be checked, but (wrongly) assumed that mine were skipped when I checked your website hours later.

        I do hope that the girl will recover and that the family can get back home soon.

    • Dsull July 31, 2012 at 5:27 pm

      They have to check each comment before it is posted. sometimes it’s quick, sometimes it takes a little bit.

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