Arlee resident dies in wreck
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ARLEE — While attempting to help an apparently intoxicated father and son drive home, two good Samaritans ended up in a fatal car accident that killed Arlee resident Mark Francis Felsman Sr.
According to Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Paul Pfau, 41-year-old Felsman Sr. and his son left the El Diablo restaurant and bar on South Higgins Road in Missoula around 1 a.m. and began driving north on U.S. Highway 93 towards their residence.
Two females in a passenger vehicle also headed north noticed Felsman’s inability to maintain speed and that his vehicle was swerving noticeably.
After flashing their bright headlights and honking, the female pair was able to get Felsman Sr. and his son to pull off the highway and into the Gray Wolf Casino parking lot. Once in the lot, they offered to give the father and son pair a ride home.
The truck’s owner, Felsman’s son, got into the passenger seat of the 2001 Nissan Maxima while Felsman Sr. stayed in his son’s Chevy pickup and the second woman drove it. Both vehicles reentered U.S. Highway 93 traveling north, the Nissan taking the lead.
At about 1:30 a.m. near mile marker 15.2, the driver of the Nissan missed a turn and abruptly hit the brake while still in the road. The Chevy, carrying Felsman Sr. and traveling close behind, sideswiped the Nissan, went broadside and rolled several times off the road.
No one was wearing a seatbelt.
The pickup’s female driver was thrown from the vehicle, while Felsman was partially ejected and pinned underneath. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The Nissan’s occupants were not seriously injured. The female driver of the Chevy pickup was transported to St. Patrick Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
“I would describe her injuries as abrasions or road rash,” Pfau said.
Pfau said there was glass and debris on the highway, but no fluids or fire. No lanes were ever closed down, though traffic was restricted for a time while emergency crews worked.
“It appears that alcohol is a likely factor, but drugs and alcohol as a contributing cause are still being investigated,” Pfau said.
Pfau does not believe speed was a contributing factor, as the crash distance and damage did not indicate a collision at high speed. Even so, Pfau believes that had Felsman been wearing a seatbelt, he would have survived.
“Because of the roll, there was some crush damage on the roof, but the cab of the truck compartment was in pretty decent shape. I think it was survivable had they been wearing seatbelts,” he said.