Six people were injured, two critically, late Tuesday afternoon when a car crossed the center line of Highway 126 west of Redmond and collided nearly head-on with an SUV, Oregon State Police said. They added that alcohol use is being investigated as a contributing factor.
Around 4:35 p.m., a Toyota Corolla driven by Jessica Garcia, 19, of Redmond, was heading east on the highway, about a mile west of Redmond, rounding a right-hand curve when it crossed into the westbound lane, hitting an oncoming Kia Sportage SUV driven by Susan Burdick, 54, of Redmond, said OSP Sgt. Keith Taylor.
The SUV went down an embankment and turned onto its side; crews used extrication tools to cut open the wreckage and free at least one person trapped inside.
Riding with Garcia was right-front passenger Matthew Franz, 27, of Bend, right-rear passenger Kyle Kemp, 19, of Redmond, and a male juvenile from Central Oregon who was left-rear passenger and whom OSP did not identify. Burdick was accompanied by Larry Burdick, 69, also of Redmond.
Garcia and the male juvenile were flown by helicopter to St. Charles-Bend, where she remained in critical condition Wednesday, according to a nursing supervisor.
Knight said the Burdicks were taken by ambulance to the Bend hospital with what OSP termed serious injuries. The nursing supervisor said both were in fair condition Wednesday.
Franz was taken by ambulance to St. Charles-Redmond with minor injuries, the sergeant said, while Kemp was treated at the scene and not taken to the hospital.
OSP troopers are continuing their investigation, which closed the highway about a half-mile west of Helmholtz Way for about three hours. But Knight said alcohol by Garcia was being investigated as a “contributing factor” in the crash.
Seat belt use had not been determined, but Knight said the air bags deployed in both vehicles during the crash.
OSP Lt. Carl Rhodes said that sadly, he's responded to numerous crashes on the stretch of roadway.
"We have a lot of crashes between Redmond and Sisters, and in this area in particular -- we're pretty close to Helmholtz Way," Rhodes said.
OSP was assisted at the scene by Deschutes County sheriff’s deputies, Redmond police and fire departments, Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire and Rescue, ODOT and the district attorney’s office.