Highway 26 crash injures six, two seriously

Distracted driver cited after nearly head-on crash E. of Prineville

PRINEVILLE, Ore. - A Corvallis man, distracted by something outside his car, crossed the center line of Highway 26 about 20 miles east of Prineville Sunday morning and crashed into a station wagon nearly head-on, sending six people to area hospitals, two with serious but non-life-threatening injuries, Oregon State Police said.

Around 9:45 a.m., a 2013 Dodge Avenger four-door driven by Anoop Antony, 28, of Corvallis, was heading east on Highway 26 when he became distracted by something outside of the car and traveled into the westbound lane while negotiating a right-hand curve, said OSP Senior Trooper Jed Rzegocki.

The car collided with an oncoming 2006 Subaru Legacy station wagon driven by Mark Caffee, 54, of Portland, the trooper said.

Each car had four occupants, and six of the eight people in the cars went to hospitals, Rzegocki said, adding that all were wearing seat belts.

Antony, who was unhurt, was cited by State Police for failing to maintain a lane of travel. Two of his three passengers were taken to hospitals.

Left-rear passenger Usha Devaraj, 31, of Corvallis, was taken by LifeFlight helicopter to St. Charles-Bend with serious injuries, the trooper said; Devaraj was listed in fair condition Monday, hospital officials said. Right-rear passenger Ambilay James, 28, of Corvallis, was taken to Pioneer Memorial Hospital in Prineville with minor injuries.

Caffee also went to the Prineville hospital with minor injuries, as did his right-rear passenger Daniel Frantz, 41, and left-rear passenger Emily Caffee, 27, both of Portland. Right-front passenger Christine McKassey, 55, of Portland, was flown by LifeFlight to the Bend hospital with serious injuries, Rzegocki said.

The highway was closed for an hour after the crash, then open in one lane for both directions for about another hour before fully reopening. OSP troopers from Bend and Madras were assisted at the scene by Crook County sheriff's deputies, Crook County Fire & Rescue and ODOT.

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