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Five escape with minor injuries in 3-car crash

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RAVALLI — A three-vehicle accident at the intersection of U.S. Highway 93 and Hwy. 200 sent five people to the hospital with minor injuries and slowed traffic to a crawl for an hour and a half Friday afternoon, Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Terry Rosenbaum said. 

The collision happened just after 2:30 p.m. when the driver of a red Ford Five Hundred sedan, with two passengers aboard, attempted to cross from Old Highway 93 directly to Hwy. 200. A Franz Family Bakeries truck was stopped at the traffic light on Hwy. 200, preparing to turn left into the northbound lane of Hwy. 93. The driver of the red sedan apparently didn’t notice a white Dodge Caravan approaching in the southbound lane of Hwy. 93, Rosenbaum explained, and pulled out in front of the minivan.

“I think the driver of the red vehicle just wasn’t paying attention to southbound traffic,” Rosenbaum said.

The white minivan hit the passenger side of the red car, and both vehicles slid into the bread truck, sandwiching the red sedan between the other two vehicles. The minivan wasn’t speeding, Rosenbaum noted, but “the momentum of both cars ended up sliding them into the bread truck.”

After Mission firefighters and other emergency personnel extricated the driver of the minivan, crews used the Jaws of Life rescue tool to remove doors from the Ford Five Hundred and get the three occupants out.

Ronan and Mission Valley Ambulance crews transported all five people involved in the wreck to St. Luke Community Hospital in Ronan, where they were all treated and released. All five were wearing their seatbelts at the time of the wreck.

“(The wreck) looked a lot worse than it was,” Rosenbaum said. “I think there would’ve been more injuries if the people, especially in the red car, weren’t wearing their seatbelts.”

Rosenbaum cited the driver of the Ford Five Hundred for failing to yield the right of way to a vehicle on a through highway, he said, but no other citations were issued. 

Although the roads were wet, the weather conditions probably didn’t contribute to the crash, he said.

Lake County Sheriff’s deputies, St. Ignatius Police and Tribal Law and Order also responded to the scene.

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