On U.S. Highway 97 July 19

by: HOLLY M. GILL - A head-on crash on U.S. Highway 97 on Friday resulted in the death of two drivers. The highway was closed completely for more than two hours while Oregon State Police investigated.A head-on crash killed two people and injured another on Friday afternoon, on U.S. Highway 97, north of Madras.

According to Oregon State Police, who are in charge of the investigation, the accident occurred around 5:30 p.m. July 19. A commercial truck was reportedly traveling southbound on Highway 97, near milepost 89, when several vehicles began passing.

by: HOLLY M. GILL - Firefighters examine the Subaru driven by Chester Ward, 91, who died in a crash 
July 19, on U.S. Highway 97, north of Madras.The last of the vehicles attempting to pass, a 2013 Subaru Legacy four-door, rented and driven by Warren Chester Ward, 91, of Chula Vista, Calif., was unable to get around the truck in time, and collided head-on with a northbound 1991 Ford Explorer, driven by Harold M. Curtis, 71, of Antelope. Both drivers were pronounced deceased at the scene of the crash.

The two vehicles came to rest off the east side of the highway at a considerable distance from each other. Firefighters extinguished a small fire that started in the front of the Subaru before it could spread into the car's interior. However, the fire spread south, along the highway right-of-way, but was contained by firefighters from the Jefferson County Fire Department.

Airbags in the Subaru deployed, and police reported that Ward was using safety restraints.

Curtis and passenger Elizabeth A. Samul, 68, also of Antelope, were also using safety restraints. Samul was transported to St. Charles Madras with nonlife-threatening injuries.

OSP troopers from Madras and Prineville offices responded to the accident, and were assisted by deputies from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, the fire department, and the Oregon Department of Transportation. The highway was closed for more than two hours before one lane was re-opened.

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