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The original item was published from 5/22/2023 10:41:55 AM to 5/22/2023 3:18:11 PM.

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Posted on: May 22, 2023

[ARCHIVED] KCSO Responds to Fatal Traffic Collision

Fernan Lake Road Accident

 The following information is preliminary and subject to change as the incident is currently under investigation.  Events in this press release may change as the investigation progresses.

Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho – On May 21st, 2023 at approximately 3:23 p.m., deputies with the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO), along with members of the Coeur d’Alene Fire Department, KootenaiBruzas Booking County Fire and Rescue, and The United States Forest Service responded to the area of Fernan Lake Road approximately one mile East of the Fernan Rod and Gun Club. Witnesses reported a head-on collision between two vehicles, causing one vehicle to roll approximately 400 feet down the ravine. The KCSO Traffic Unit was paged out to investigate the incident.

The initial investigation showed the driver of a 1999, Dodge Ram 1500, identified as 83 year old Donald Phelam of Coeur d’Alene, was traveling eastbound going up the Fernan Grade when he collided with a 2016, Ford F150 being driven by Mark Bruzas of Spokane Valley, Washington. After the collision, Phelam and his vehicle rolled down the ravine. Phelam was pronounced deceased at the scene. 

Bruzas showed signs and symptoms of being under the influence. After field sobriety testing it was determined he was intoxicated at the time of the collision. Bruzas was arrested and booked into the Kootenai County Public Safety Building on one count of Felony Vehicular Homicide. 

Fernan Lake Road beyond the Fernan Rod and Gun Club will be closed for the majority of the day on 5/22/23 in order to recover evidence. Please avoid the area and use alternate routes into the back country.

This investigation is ongoing, and more information will be made available when appropriate. If you have any information regarding the collision, contact the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Unit at (208)446-2271 or email at

This is the fourth fatal crash the KCSO Traffic Unit has investigated over the course of two months. KCSO would like to remind everyone as Memorial Day approaches, to enjoy the natural beauty of Kootenai County responsibly. If you plan on drinking alcohol, find a sober driver. 

Case #- 23-21286
Sheriff Robert B. Norris
By: Sgt. J. Howard

Contact: Lt. Zachary Sifford
Office: 208-446-2245
PIO Cell: 208-758-1045  

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