OSP IDs 2 drivers killed in Hwy. 97 head-on crash

Calif. man, 91, was trying to pass semi truck, hit SUV

By KTVZ.COM news sources
POSTED: 6:04 PM PDT July 19, 2013    UPDATED: 3:28 PM PDT July 22, 2013 
Hwy. 97 double-fatal
MADRAS, Ore. -

A 91-year-old California man was trying to pass a semi truck on Highway 97 seven miles north of Madras Friday afternoon when his rental car collided head-on with an oncoming SUV, killing both drivers and injuring the other passenger, Oregon State Police said Saturday as they released the names of the victims.

Around 5:30 p.m., a commercial truck was heading south near milepost 89 when a group of traffic began passing, troopers said.

One of the passing vehicles, a rented 2013 Subaru Legacy four-door driven by Warren Chester Ward, 91, of Chula Vista, California, had insufficient clearance to complete the pass and collided head-on with a 1991 Ford Explorer with two occupants, troopers said.

Both vehicles came to rest off the highway, where a small fire started in the front of the Subaru that was extinguished by firefighters before it spread into the car's interior.

Ward was pronounced dead at the scene, troopers said, adding that he was using safety restraints and the car's airbags deployed.

The Ford's driver, Harold M. Curtis, 71, of Antelope, also was pronounced dead at the scene, troopers said.

His passenger and girlfriend, Elizabeth Samul, 68, also of Antelope, was taken to St. Charles-Madras with non-life threatening injuries, troopers said, adding that both were using safety restraints.

OSP troopers from Madras and Prineville offices conducted the on0scene investigation the fatal crash. The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, Jefferson County Fire District #1 and ODOT assisted at the scene. The highway was blocked for over two hours before one lane was open.

Trooper Todd Burke is the lead investigator.