County News

One man was killed in a three-car collision on Cornville Road near Verde Santa Fe at about 4 p.m. Nov. 23.

Justin Allen Goemaere, 31, of Cottonwood, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office. He was riding in the front seat and not wearing a seat belt. Officials are conducting an autopsy.

Goemaere was a passenger in a car driven by Cody Louis Bright, 31, of Cottonwood, who is charged with manslaughter, aggravated DUI, extreme DUI, DUI, endangerment, aggravated assault and criminal damage. He was booked at the Yavapai County Detention Center in Camp Verde and remains in custody on a $250,000 bond. He was not wearing a seat belt and sustained minor injuries.

The third passenger, a 20-year-old man from Cottonwood, was seated in the rear. He was wearing a seat belt and sustained minor injuries.

“The preliminary investigation has determined that the suspect’s 1999 red Ford Escort sedan was traveling west on Cornville Road when it began passing several slower vehicles after entering the opposite/east lane of travel,” YCSO Media Relations Coordinator Dwight D’Evelyn stated Nov. 25. “At this time, according to witnesses, there were four oncoming vehicles traveling east on Cornville Road.

“The first three of those vehicles had to move into the westbound lane to avoid being struck by the suspect vehicle now occupying their lane going in the wrong direction. As a result, cars traveling west had to swerve onto the right shoulder to avoid those escaping a head-on collision with the suspect.”

A fourth eastbound vehicle, a 1995 blue Mercury van, could not avoid the suspect vehicle and collided. Another vehicle, a 2001 silver Nissan Sentra traveling west, was forced onto the right shoulder, over-corrected, swerved across lanes and rolled before coming to rest on the south side of Cornville Road.

“When deputies initially spoke with suspect Bright, he attempted to place the deceased passenger as the driver of the suspect vehicle,” D’Evelyn said. “Several witnesses and physical evidence provided proof that Bright was driving the red Ford Escort. While conversing with Bright, deputies detected an obvious odor of alcohol on his breath and person. Field tests indicated he was DUI. Bright’s blood test results are pending.”

The driver of the blue van, a 62-year-old woman from Cornville, was wearing her seat belt and sustained severe injuries. She was flown to Northern Arizona Healthcare Flagstaff Medical Center. Her condition is unknown at this time.

The driver of the silver Sentra, a 38-year-old woman from Cornville, and her 8-year-old daughter were both wearing seatbelts and sustained minor injuries.

A campaign for Goemaere, “Justin Goemaere Memorial Fund,” has been set up by his sister, April Goemaere Snow. According to Snow, Bright was Goemaere’s best friend and Morgan is his cousin.

“Justin didn’t have life insurance and we don’t have money for funeral costs,” she said. “We only have enough to drive to Arizona and back home to Oregon. If anybody can donate anything or send up some prayers for our family it would be very much appreciated .... Please pray for Cody [Bright] and his family. We are familiar with the pain they’re feeling.”

According to Snow, any additional funds raised through the campaign will be donated to Goemaere’s sons.


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