One injured in fiery 4-car crash near La Pine

OSP: Pickup driver lost control on slick Hwy. 97

La PINE, Ore. - One driver was taken to a Bend hospital Tuesday afternoon after a fiery four-vehicle crash on snowy Highway 97 north of La Pine. Oregon State Police said.

Around 1:45 p.m., a 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche pickup driven by Frances Sittel, 62, of La Pine  was southbound on Highway 97 near milepost 160 (the Paulina Lake Junction), following a 2005 Toyota Corolla and a 2012 Kia Sportage sport utility vehicle, when Sittel lost control on the snow and ice-covered highway, troopers said.

Sittel''s pickup crashed into the back of the Toyota Corolla, pushing it into the back of the Kia Sportage, troopers said.

The pickup then spun sideways into the northbound lane, where it crashed into a northbound 1998 Chrysler van driven by Lisa A. Stewart, 48, from Bend, they said.

After the final impact, the van caught fire in the middle of the highway; its driver was able to get out before La Pine firefighters arrived.

The pickup came to rest off the highway in a snow bank. The other two vehicles came to rest with minor damage.

Stewart was taken by ambulance to St. Charles-Bend for treatment of non-life threatening injuries, troopers said. The other three drivers were not injured.

The Toyota's driver was identified as Michelle Keefer, 37, of Roseburg. The Kia's driver was identified as Danny Lowery, 72, of La Pine.

OSP was assisted at the scene by the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, La Pine Rural Fire Protection District and ODOT. The crash shut Highway 97 for about an hour.

Senior Trooper Jason Hansen is the lead investigator. Enforcement action decision is pending completion of the investigation., the OSP said.

It was one of numerous crashes on snow- and ice-covered roads around the region, prompting officials to warn drivers to slow down and be cautious.

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