MADRAS, Ore. - (Update: OSP identifies driver who died, woman with non-life-threatening injuries)
A Dallas, Oregon man was killed late Wednesday afternoon when his SUV ran off U.S. Highway 26 between Madras and Prineville and struck a tree, closing the highway and sparking a wildfire that covered several acres, authorities said. Oregon State Police identified the victim Thursday.
A passing motorist was able to rescue the four other occupants, a woman and three children.
OSP identified the driver of the Chevy Suburban as Michael Dennis Roach, 68. The female passenger, Tara Rae Redfern, 36, of Portland, was taken to St. Charles Bend and treated for non-life-threatening injuries, said OSP Sgt. Michael Berland. He had no condition update on the three children in the SUV, who were taken to St. Charles Madras.
Emergency crews responded just before 5 p.m. Wednesday to the crash near milepost 11, between Madras and Prineville, Berland said.
An initial investigation found the Suburban was heading west when Roach drove off the road for unknown reasons and struck a tree in the ditch on the south side of the highway, Berland said.
Another driver, heading east, arrived immediately after the crash and was able to break out the car windows and pull the children and women from the car, but was unable to save the driver, the sergeant said. That driver's name was not released.
The SUV caught fire and was fully engulfed before Jefferson County Fire District crews arrived. Berland said the driver died at the scene of his injuries.
The grass fire grew to about four acres but was contained by four Prineville BLM engine crews, aided by three single-engine air tankers (SEATs) dropping retardant, said BLM spokeswoman Lisa Clark.
OSP was assisted on the scene by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Jefferson County Fire District, Jefferson County EMS, Oregon Department of Transportation and the Jefferson County Medical Examiner.