(Update: Oregon State Police release information)
La PINE, Ore. (KTVZ) – Two drivers, one a male juvenile, were killed and two passengers were injured in a fiery head-on crash early Wednesday afternoon that closed U.S. Highway 97 for about four hours, authorities said.
Oregon State Police, La Pine Rural Fire District firefighter-medics and Deschutes County sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene of the crash shortly before 1 p.m. about a mile south of La Pine, near Jackpine Loop and milepost 168, officials said.
OSP said later a preliminary investigation found that a male juvenile was driving a Dodge pickup northbound when it sideswiped an SUV driven by a Bend man that was turning onto Jackpine Loop.
Troopers said the pickup then entered the southbound lane and collided with a U-Haul rental truck driven by Jeffrey Ferris, 35, of Fairview.
Ferris and the young driver of the pickup sustained fatal injuries and died at the crash scene, OSP said. The other driver was uninjured.
Two other male juveniles, passengers in the pickup and the U-Haul, were injured and taken to St. Charles Bend.
Fire Chief Mike Supkis said both vehicles caught fire as a result of the collision, which prompted a lengthy closure of the highway for a crash investigation and reconstruction. With no detour available, major traffic backups occurred. ODOT crews were on scene to divert traffic.
ODOT said in an update Wednesday evening that the highway fully reopened around 5 p.m.
Along with the other agencies, OSP also was assisted at the scene by the Central Oregon Police Chaplaincy.