Deschutes County

Driver killed in Highway 97 crash identified

South-county man's pickup left road, hit tree

SUNRIVER, Ore. - Authorities have identified a 47-year-old south Deschutes County resident who was killed a week ago when his pickup truck crossed the oncoming lane and left Highway 97 south of Sunriver, striking a large tree.

A witness reported seeing the crash early last Tuesday, Sept. 18, that claimed the life of Mitchell L. Banaka. It took several days to notify relatives, sheriff's Sgt. Ronny Dozier said Tuesday.

Banaka was returning to his home in the Oregon Water Wonderland subdivision from his job in Madras at the time of the crash, Dozier said.

A witness reported seeing the southbound red Chevy pickup go off the road and into the trees near Vandevert Road shortly after 3 a.m.

Dozier said Banaka was wearing his seat belt at the time of the crash, and the air bags deployed, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

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