La PINE, Ore. - (Update: OSP IDs driver killed in crash; correcting age of tanker truck driver)
A pickup truck collided head-on with a tanker truck hauling apple juice on Highway 97 north of La Pine Monday afternoon, killing the pickup's driver, a 69-year-old Silverton man, and closing the highway for six hours, authorities said.
The rollover crash was reported at Wickiup Junction, the highway's intersection with Burgess Road, at 1:35 p.m.
Oregon State Police said the tanker truck was heading south on the highway when a northbound red 1998 Ford Ranger pickup truck driven by Frederick Holmes Winkler crossed the center line.
"According to witness statements and the driver of the commercial motor vehicle, it looks like for whatever reason, the operator of the '98 Ford Ranger, who was traveling northbound, went into the oncoming lane," OSP Sgt. Michael Berland, told NewsChannel 21 at the crash scene.
The driver of the 2015 Kenworth semi, identified as Tyler Staudt, 29, of Lake Havasu, Arizona, tried to avoid a crash, but they still collided head-on in the southbound lane and the tanker truck rolled onto its side in the ditch, OSP reported.
"With the transport tanker holding 5,000 gallons of apple juice, that load is very difficult to control when it shifts in that type of dynamic steering input," Berland said.
The pickup truck caught fire after the collision, and Winkler, who was alone, died at the scene, troopers said.
Staudt sustained minor injuries and was taken to St. Charles Bend for assessment, troopers said, adding that he was cooperating in the investigation.
The truck, owned by Indian River Trucking Company, was hauling 5,000 gallons of apple juice, some of which began to leak into the ground after the crash. Troopers said there were no hazardous material concerns.
The highway was closed in both directions between Burgess Road and First Street, a lengthy closure due to crash reconstruction work. Detours were in place within about an hour, using Burgess and Huntington roads and First Street. ODOT reported the highway was fully reopened around 7:30 p.m.
ODOT spokesman Peter Murphy said the Highway 97-Burgess Road intersection at Wickiup Junction -- where a railroad overpass project has been under way -- has not had an unusually high number of fatal crashes.
"We did a study a while back (of Highway 97), and there's no one place, including where you're at, that has any greater incidence of crashes than any place else," Murphy said. "It's not due to the location itself."
OSP was assisted on scene by the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon State Police, Redmond police, ODOT, La Pine Fire District medics and the Deschutes County medical examiner.
OSP also said the leaked apple juice is not harmful to the environment, but could attract a lot of deer. They said drivers should be more aware of their surroundings when driving through the area over the next few months.