Third person dead, pending identification -

Police say that it is unknown why the driver of a 1997 Ford Escort crossed the highway centerline Monday night and collided with a westbound vehicle occupied by two people from Happy Valley.

The Ford Escort's driver was killed as the vehicle split into two, and both vehicles caught fire Highway 18 about 17 miles east of Otis in Polk County.

Amnata Ratsasack, 52, and his female passenger Nelavanh Bounketh, 48, were able to leave their Mercedes SUV on their own. An ambulance later transported them to Salem Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

According to Oregon State Police Lt. Justin McGladrey, on June 23 at approximately 11:16 p.m., the Escort was traveling eastbound on Highway 18 near milepost 18. The Escort's driver was found deceased at the scene, and positive identification is pending and won't be released until authorized by the Polk County Medical Examiner.

OSP is continuing the investigation into Monday night's crash in which fire spread to the side of the highway. After firefighters extinguished the fire in both vehicles and along the highway, officials reopened the highway, but it was restricted to one lane of travel until dawn.

OSP was assisted at the scene by Polk County Sheriff's Office, West Valley Fire District, Sheridan Fire District, Polk County Medical Examiner, Polk County District Attorney's Office and ODOT.

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