Wyoming Highway Patrol

The Wyoming Highway Patrol is investigating driver fatigue and improper seat belt use as the contributing factors in the first recorded highway fatality in 2016, according to a prepared statement from the Highway Patrol.

The deceased was a 44-year-old passenger from Pensacola, Fla., in a Jeep driven by Nathan Perkins, 25, also of Pensacola., on eastbound Interstate 80 about 26 miles west of Laramie at 4 a.m. Monday, according to the prepared statement from Patrol Sgt. David Wagener.

Perkins apparently fell asleep while driving, crossed over the median side roadway rumble strips and struck a delineator post. Perkins then overcorrected the vehicle to the right, crossed both eastbound lanes and left the highway while sliding. After leaving the highway, the vehicle tripped and rolled multiple times.

The passenger was incorrectly wearing his seat belt by sitting on top of the lap belt  with the shoulder belt portion placed over his body. The passenger was ejected during the crash and died at the scene. Perkins was wearing his seat belt and was taken to Ivinson Memorial Hospital in Laramie where he was hospitalized.

Troopers are investigating driver fatigue as the contributing factor in this crash. They also believe the fatality could have been avoided if the passenger had used his seat belt correctly. Perkins has been cited for careless driving.

Authorities are continuing to locate next of kin for the passenger. The man’s name is not being released until that notification has been made.

This marked the first highway fatality in Wyoming for 2016. There were five fatalities as of Jan. 6th last year.