(Update: Blas goes to court, conditionally released)
A 21-year-old Bend man who turned himself in to Oregon State Police faces assault, reckless driving and other charges after a nearly head-on collision Saturday night on U.S. Highway 20 near Santiam Junction that sent three people to the hospital with serious injuries, troopers said Monday.
OSP troopers and medics responded around 9 p.m. Saturday to the reported three-vehicle crash on the highway near milepost 76, just east of the junction of highways 20 and 126, said OSP Lt. Cari Boyd.
An initial investigation found that Salvador Marcelo Blas, the driver of a 2016 Kia Optima, was heading east “at a high rate of speed, Boyd said in a news release.
Blas was unable to control the car and crossed into the oncoming lane, troopers said. The driver of one car, a 2016 Kia Sorrento, was able to avoid a collision by driving into a ditch, but Blas’s car then crashed nearly head-on into a 2014 Ford Focus, Boyd said.
Two passengers in Blas’ car and the driver of the Ford were flown by air ambulances to St. Charles Bend and were reported by OSP to be in serious condition. The two people in the car that swerved to avoid a crash were unhurt.
Boyd said Monday they are not releasing the names of the injured people at this time due to “the complexity and ongoing status of this crash.”
Blas turned himself in to the OSP office in Bend on Sunday and was taken to the Linn County Jail in Albany, since the crash occurred in that county, Boyd said.
The trooper said Linn County prosecutors are charging Blas with three counts of third-degree assault, reckless driving and failure to perform the duties of a driver. He was arraigned on the charges Monday in Albany and then conditionally released from jail, an officer confirmed Monday evening.
The crash, cleanup and investigation partially closed Highway 20 until about 4 a.m. Sunday, Boyd said.
All indications were that seat belts were in use by all occupants, she said.