By Vernon Robison
Moapa Valley Progress
An Overton family suffered tragedy last week when they were involved in a serious auto accident on Interstate 15 that claimed the life of a mother and her young son. The accident occurred while Cody and Dani Fox of Overton were travelling to Las Vegas with their three children on Wednesday afternoon. Their truck was towing a utility trailer which they were bringing to a friend in Las Vegas as a favor.
According to Nevada Highway Patrol officials, as the vehicle approached the railroad overpass near Apex, at around 4:30 p.m., the tread of its rear tire came completely off. Troopers said that the vehicle, being driven by Cody Fox, then lost control and swerved across the center median into the northbound lanes. The vehicle overturned and rolled over a number of times before coming to rest on the northbound side of I-15.
No other vehicles were involved in the accident. But the northbound lanes of I-15 were closed until about 9:30 p.m. while NHP officers investigated the scene.
Dani Fox, 30, and her young son Zachary, 3, were pronounced dead at the scene.
Cody and the other two boys ages 6 and 4, were transported to University Medical Center in Las Vegas to be treated of their injuries. All three were released later that evening.
Overton residents Scott and Carrie Beckstrand happened to be travelling just a few minutes behind the Fox family on Wednesday afternoon. They came upon the scene of the accident shortly after it had happened.
“No one from the police or fire or rescue had arrived there yet when we got there,” said Carrie Beckstrand in an interview with the Progress. “We didn’t know who it was in the accident, had no idea it was the Fox’s, but we stopped to see if there was anything we could do.”
Both Scott and Carrie are volunteers at Logandale Fire Station 73. Scott is currently serving as station chief.
Carrie said that she went over and assisted another bystander with performing CPR on the young boy while Scott and others worked on getting the other members of the family out of the vehicle. It was only then that they realized that the victims were actually their friends and neighbors, the Fox’s.
Carrie and the others continued CPR on Zachary for 20 minutes or so until paramedics arrived.
“He never responded,” Carrie said. “But we continued working on him until we were told we should stop.”
Dani had been ejected from the truck during the accident and was found some distance away, Carrie said.
“She was already gone when we got there,” Carrie said. “There was nothing we could do.”
Cody had suffered a head injury and was trapped in the truck, Carrie said. Rescue personnel had to use equipment to release him from the vehicle, she said.
In a press conference held Thursday afternoon at Overton Fire Station 74, family members expressed shock and sadness at the sudden turn of events.
In a statement to the media, Cody’s father Wade Fox explained that his son and Dani had been married for seven years and had a very happy life together.
“She was a wonderful mother,” Fox said of Dani. “She loved her kids and took good care of them. She was fun to be around and was always happy.”
Fox also had fond recollections of his grandchild, Zachary.
“He had a great little personality,” Fox said. “He was a real determined little guy at times. But he was a fun little spirit and just a wonderful kid. He was very close to his mother.”
Dani’s brother Michael Palmer of Overton said that the family had been struggling but appreciated the community’s support.
“When someone dies of an illness or is elderly the family has some time to process it and work through it,” Palmer said. “But it is a lot harder when it is sudden like this. There is no preparation for it. It just doesn’t seem real.”
Dani had served for several years as a volunteer EMT at Overton station 74. Station Assistant Chief Elwin Brown spoke about the impact that would be felt in the community and at the station by the loss.
“Dani has been running with the station here for eight years,” Brown said. “She was also a school bus driver and she worked at the grocery store in the pharmacy. She was very involved in the community. There are very few in the community who didn’t know her. There are few who will not be touched by this loss.”
Brown said that the loss would especially be felt at station 74.
“She and her husband both were very involved in the fire department,” Brown said. “We relied on her heavily for running on the ambulance. We will miss her willingness to serve.”
One recent instance involving Dani’s service as a volunteer EMT was remembered by some of her firefighter colleagues. Just last month, there was an incident involving a woman who was participating in an ATV tour group in a remote desert area south of Overton.
Karen Purdin of Lancaster, Pennsylvania and her husband Michael were on vacation in Las Vegas. They had taken an ATV tour out to the Overton area. According to Michael Purdin, during the tour, Karen had been involved in an ATV accident and suffered an injury to her leg where she was bleeding quite heavily.
“Of course, the tour guides were well trained in first aid, but we were past that stage,” Michael Purdin said in a telephone interview with the Progress.
An emergency call for help was made. The incident had taken place in the area covered by Overton station 74, so that station received the first call. But there was not a full team of volunteers available to respond from the station.
“The call was timed out as an arterial bleed,” remembered Logandale Station 73 EMT Gail DeCaria. “In those situations, time is of the essence. So Dani threw her kids in her 4 wheel drive pickup and went.”
DeCaria said that she and the Logandale rescue vehicle responded somewhat later. The emergency vehicle was taken off road as far as it could but then had to stop because of deep sand. The 73 volunteers had to arrange ATVs from the tour company to take them to the scene. This took some time.
But Dani arrived quickly to the scene of the accident and immediately assessed the situation, Purdin said.
“It was a pretty crazy day,” he said. “Here we are on vacation and all of a sudden our whole world was turned upside down. It was very reassuring to have someone arrive there on scene.”
It turned out that the injury wasn’t as serious as originally feared. Though the bleeding was serious, the injury had not damaged an artery. Dani called for a helicopter to come to transport Purdin to the hospital for care.
Still the willingness to respond quickly and efficiently was meaningful, DeCaria said.
“She got there and applied appropriate pressure until the helicopter came,” DeCaria said. “We (Station 73) didn’t get there until about 20 minutes after she did, so she basically saved twenty minutes of bleeding.”
Michael Purdin remembered that Dani had brought her kids with her on the emergency call.
“I remember one of them had just jumped into a mud puddle or something at home just before the emergency call had come,” Purdin said. “He was pretty messy. But she hadn’t taken the time to clean him up. She just came.”
“That’s the way she was,” DeCaria said. “She was always willing to go on calls. Her attitude was always positive and she was able to just take care of business. She never got up tight about a call.”
“It takes a special person to go out and volunteer that way; to drop everything and go help someone you don’t know,” Purdin said. “We appreciated that. We send our thoughts and prayers on to the family and our deepest sympathy and we hope that everything goes well for them.”