5 killed in 2-vehicle crash on wet Highway 2 near Libby

2010-03-29T17:05:00Z 5 killed in 2-vehicle crash on wet Highway 2 near LibbyMICHAEL JAMISON Missoulian The Billings Gazette
March 29, 2010 5:05 pm  • 

UPDATE: LIBBY - Five people died and one was badly injured Monday morning in a two-vehicle crash east of Libby.

The fatalities came on the heels of yet another deadly crash, which claimed the lives of five Helena teenagers over the weekend.

According to Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Bryce Ford, a Dodge Stratus and a GMC Yukon were involved in the Libby wreck, which does not appear to have been a head-on collision.

"We're still trying to figure that out," Ford said. "We still don't know exactly what happened."

Ford said the accident occurred at about 10 a.m. on wet but clear roads just east of Libby on U.S. Highway 2. The driver of the Dodge, Jack Flasche, 68, of Troy, was killed in the accident, as was his wife, Lois, 66, and backseat passenger Theresa Merritt, 55, also of Troy.

The driver of the SUV, Sherry Thompson, 41, of Eureka, also was killed, as was her 10-year-daughter Kendra. Her 16-year-old son Braden survived the crash in the SUV's passenger seat and was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for treatment. All but one of the victims were wearing seatbelts.

"It was raining so hard, just pouring down," said Lincoln County Sheriff Daryl Anderson. "Whatever happened, it was a real mess."

Anderson said the Thompsons were traveling in the Yukon, westbound from Eureka to Idaho. The Flasches and Merritt were eastbound from Troy to Kalispell. A team specializing in computerized crash reconstruction is expected to arrive on the scene Tuesday, Anderson said, "and that should pretty well tell us the story. Until then, we're not going to have many answers."

The accident closed Highway 2 at mile marker 25 for about four hours, Ford said, and investigators were still interviewing witnesses late Monday afternoon. Anderson said the wreck was particularly shocking, given the four-fatality accident that occurred on the same highway, east of Libby, earlier this month.

In that crash, near Happy's Inn, 17-year-old Jacob Colclough - returning home to Libby after a National Guard meeting - fell asleep behind the wheel of his Hyundai Santa Fe, crashing into a van driven by Ramona Bauer. Bauer, 59, was traveling with her grandchildren - 12-year-old Jade Ulrich and 13-year-old Jeremy Dodge-Sanders - returning to their home in Columbia Falls after a wrestling tournament in Libby. All four died in the wreck.

INITIAL REPORT: MISSOULA — The Montana Highway Patrol says five people were killed and one person was badly injured in a two-vehicle crash on U.S. Highway 2 east of Libby.

Trooper Bryce Ford says a Dodge Stratus and a GMC Yukon were involved in the crash at about 10 a.m. Monday. He says investigators are still trying to figure out what happened. Ford says the crash happened on wet but clear roads.

Three women, a man and a juvenile girl were killed. A young man survived and has been flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for treatment.

The victims were members of two family groups, three from Eureka and two from Troy. The names of the victims have not been released.

The crash closed the highway for about four hours.


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