Fatal Traffic Crash On Highway 97 Near Gilchrist‏

Oregon State Police (OSP) troopers are continuing the investigation into Thursday night’s two vehicle crash on Highway 97 near Gilchrist that resulted in the death of one person and injuries to seven others. Five of the 7 survivors were treated and released from a Bend-area hospital. Two others are in fair condition.

On December 20, 2012 at approximately 7:30 p.m., a 1997 Nissan Maxima driven by Marie C. Velasco, age 39, from San Diego, California, was southbound on Highway 97 near milepost 184 when she lost control of the car on an icy section of road. The Nissan crossed into the northbound lane and collided with a northbound 1995 Mercury four-door driven by Anna Ivens, age 34, from La Pine.

The Nissan’s six occupants, including 3 juvenile age children, and the Mercury’s two occupants were all transported by ambulance to St. Charles Medical Center in Bend for treatment of various injuries.

The Mercury’s passenger, Cherie N. Richardson, age 36, from La Pine, was later pronounced deceased at the hospital.

Ivens is reported in fair condition.

Marie Velasco was treated and released for minor injuries. Passenger Jonathan Benitez, age 18, from Wapato, Washington, and three female juvenile passengers (ages 5, 6, and 13) were also treated and released. Passenger Rosalba Benitez, age 34, from Wapato, Washington, is reported in fair condition.

OSP troopers from the Bend and La Pine offices are continuing the investigation. Safety restraint use information is not available. Trooper James Koehler is the lead investigator. The Klamath County District Attorney’s Office will review the investigation upon conclusion before any enforcement action is considered.

Albany Tribune

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