George Fleerlage was pronounced dead at the scene after rear-ending another vehicle on Highway 26 in Manning.

COURTESY PHOTO: OREGON STATE POLICE - An 86-year-old Portland man died after rear-ending a vehicle on Highway 26 in the community of Manning Monday, Oregon State Police said. The fatality was attributed to failure to wear a seat belt.The motorist who died in a crash on Highway 26 on Monday, March 19, in Manning has been named by the Oregon State Police as George Henry Fleerlage, an 86-year-old Portland resident.

Police announced Tuesday morning that their investigation and reconstruction of the crash scene determined that at about 2:15 p.m. Monday, Fleerlage was driving a BMW 3 series westbound on Highway 26 when the vehicle drifted from its lane and struck a westbound Volkswagen Passat that was preparing to turn left from a painted median.

Fleerlage was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the Volkswagen, 55-year-old Mitchel Braning of Banks, was transported to Tuality Community Hospital in Hillsboro with injuries police described as "non-life-threatening."

Braning initially declined to be transported to the hospital but later requested to be re-evaluated, according to the Banks Fire District.

Fleerlage and Braning were the only occupants of their vehicles. No other vehicles were involved in the crash, according to the Oregon State Police.

It is unclear why Fleerlage's BMW left its lane of travel and crashed into Braning's Volkswagen. Sgt. Kaipo Raiser, a spokesman for the Oregon State Police, said one possibility under consideration is that Fleerlage experienced a medical emergency prior to the crash. The medical examiner's office has yet to make that determination, he added.

Fleerlage was not using safety restraints at the time of the crash, according to Raiser.

"Had he been wearing a seat belt, the crash appeared to have been survivable," Raiser said.

Raiser said it is not known what speed the BMW was traveling at when it rear-ended the Volkswagen.

The crash reportedly occurred in front of Dairy Queen, 47650 N.W. Sunset Highway in Manning.

Traffic on Highway 26 was affected for several hours.

The crash was the second fatal wreck on the stretch of Highway 26 west of Banks in a four-day period. Two people died and five more were injured in a crash that involved three vehicles west of Timber on Friday afternoon, March 16.

By Mark Miller
Editor, Forest Grove News-Times
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