Missoula police and the Montana Highway Patrol are still trying to determine why a young woman's car crossed into oncoming traffic on Reserve Street early Tuesday morning and hit a propane tanker head-on.
The woman, 22-year-old Jessica Hill, died in the 5 a.m. crash, according to Missoula County Sheriff's Detective Jason Johnson. Reserve was shut down between South Third Street West and Mullan Road for 12 hours Tuesday as authorities worked to clear the wreck.
Hill was heading north on Reserve Street, just past a sharp turn between South Third Street and River Road, when her car veered. The driver of the propane truck, who was not seriously injured, told authorities the car's headlights weren't on, according to Missoula Police Detective Sgt. Bob Bouchee. However, that detail remains unconfirmed, he said.
"There was no initial indication of a high rate of speed," Bouchee said Wednesday. The speed limit on that section of Reserve is 45 mph.
Friends of Hill, a 2007 graduate of Big Sky High School, staged a Tuesday night vigil in her memory.
On Wednesday, some recalled an outgoing young woman who adored her little girl.
"She was a great mother and lit up anytime her daughter was mentioned," said Kristine Redli, who said she'd known Hill for years.
"She was such an amazing person and was beautiful inside and out," Redli wrote in an email.
"... She lived life to the fullest and loved to have fun."
Another friend, Jenny Kruschke, described Hill as "funny, and feisty, and so sweet. She cared so much about people, and about her daughter. A lot of people loved her."
Bouchee said Wednesday that police weren't sure where Hill was headed Tuesday morning when her car hit the truck. Upon impact, the truck carried the car south on Reserve and across it, tumbling down an embankment and into the yard of a home on North Davis Street.
Some homes in the area were evacuated as a precaution while the propane was unloaded into a different tanker.