July 31, 2013
Lieutenant Gregg Hastings
Public Information Officer
(503) 731-3020 ext 247
Photograph link valid at least 30 days - Source: Oregon State Police
Oregon State Police (OSP) is continuing the investigation into Wednesday afternoon's fatal traffic crash involving a passenger car and commercial truck in Umatilla County on Westland Road west of Hermiston. Both vehicles caught fire in the crash that resulted in the death of one person and minor injuries to the truck driver. The victim's name is withheld pending confirmation of identification.
On July 31, 2013 at approximately 1:00 p.m., a 2009 Freightliner truck pulling a semi-trailer loaded with onions driven by RAFAEL MUNIZ SANCHEZ, age 37, city of residence not available, was northbound on Westland Road near Ternes Lane when a southbound 2007 Nissan Altima four-door driven by the victim attempted to pass another vehicle. The victim's car and the commercial truck collided head-on and came to rest off the southbound shoulder where both caught fire which also spread into a nearby field.
Hermiston Fire & Emergency Services responded and controlled the field fire. Both vehicles had extensive fire damage.
SANCHEZ got out of the truck with minor injuries. He was transported by ambulance to Good Shepherd Medical Center in Hermiston where he was treated and released.
The Nissan's driver was pronounced deceased at the scene. She has been tentatively identified but her name is withheld at this time pending positive identification.
OSP troopers from the Hermiston office are continuing the investigation. Trooper Jerrad Little is the lead investigator.
OSP was assisted at the scene by Hermiston Fire & Emergency Services and Umatilla County Road Department. The roadway was closed about 9 hours until the vehicles were removed from the scene.
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