La PINE, Ore. - A head-on crash blocked icy Highway 97 north of La Pine for about an hour Sunday afternoon and sent two teens and a Bend man to a Bend hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, Deschutes County sheriff’s deputies said. It was one of several crashes around the region as snow and below-freezing temperatures made for slick roads and trouble for travelers.
Deputies responded around 1:30 p.m. to the reported multiple-vehicle injury crash on Highway 97 near milepost 159, about eight miles north of La Pine, said Sgt. Kevin Dizney.
Deputies determined a 16-year-old male driver lost control of a 1973 Chevy pickup heading south on the highway and crossed the center line, hitting a northbound 2002 Ford F-150 in a glancing fashion, sending the Chevy pickup into the oncoming lane’s guardrail. Dizney said.
The Chevy pickup then came back onto the highway and struck a 2014 Dodge Challenger head-on, causing major front-end damage to both vehicles. Meanwhile, a 1997 Jeep Cherokee also heading north behind the F-150 struck the northbound guardrail while trying to avoid colliding with the out-of-control Chevy pickup, Dizney said.
The crash blocked Highway 97 for about an hour, while tow trucks were sent to remove the Chevy pickup and Challenger.
The 16-year-old driver and 14-year-old passenger were taken by ambulance to St. Charles Bend for treatment. The driver of the Challenger, identified as Steven Edwards, 34, of Bend, also went to the hospital, by private car. None of the four people in the Cherokee or the lone driver of the F-150 needed transport to the hospital, Dizney said..
Dizney said an investigation determined the teen driving the pickup lost control during icy road conditions and that “factors such as speed, alcohol or distracted driving are not believed to be related to this crash.”
The sheriff’s office was assisted on the scene by the La Pine Rural Fire District, ODOT and the Sunriver Police Department.
Up to three other crashes were reported late Sunday afternoon on Highway 20 West near Suttle Lake and Santiam Pass, but there were no reports of serious injuries in those crashes.
In a news release, Dizney said the sheriff’s office “would like to remind drivers of fast-changing driving conditions our local roadways, ranging from dry pavement to icy conditions in short distances, and to be ready to accommodate conditions as necessary.”