POWELL BUTTE, Ore. - (Update: Highway reopens after hazmat spill cleanup)
Freezing fog turned many roads icy around Central Oregon Thursday morning and led to a series of crashes that shut Highway 126 just east of Powell Butte for much of the day. The initial crash involved a medical supply van that leaked liquid oxygen, prompting a hazardous materials cleanup response that delayed the reopening for several hours.
The three-car head-on crash and cleanup led to a lengthy closure in the area. ODOT spokesman Peter Murphy said a hazardous materials crew was called in from Eugene to clean up the spill. The highway two miles east of Powell Butte reopened in late afternoon, after several hours of detours onto nearby roads.
Here's an earlier news release from Crook County sheriff's Sgt. Bill Elliott:
The Crook County Sheriff’s Office along with the Oregon State Police are currently working multiple motor vehicle crashes on Highway 126 between Parish Lane and Minson Road, east of Powell Butte.
The crashes are multiple vehicles involved and multiple crashes in a short distance and the highway is closed at this time. Traffic is currently being rerouted around the crashes.
It also appears that several people are being rear ended when they are slowing, or stopping for the emergency lights.
The road conditions are icy with fog.
Drivers need to give extra distance when following other vehicles. Drivers need to leave early to give them extra time to get to their destination.
Drivers also need to follow all of the instructions of the emergency responders that are directing traffic. When a driver stops to talk with the person that is directing traffic, they are causing additional crashes.
ODOT reported the road also was closed, likely for an extended period, due to a hazardous-materials cleanup. One of the vehicles reported involved in the crash was a medical supply truck that was leaking liquid oxygen.
NewsChannel 21's Samantha O'Connor is on her way to the scene and we'll have more details as available.