Ravalli County Sheriff Steve Holton has identified the person who was killed in last Friday’s four-vehicle crash near Florence as 61 year-old Christine Howe of Florence.

Montana Highway Patrol Sergeant Scott Bennett provided details of how the accident occurred.

“It was late Friday at 5:20 p.m. and this took place on Highway 93, south of the Missoula Ravalli County line north of Florence,” said Sergeant Bennett. “The woman that was killed was driving a Toyota Four Runner and she was traveling northbound like she'd be going towards Lolo, but she slowed down to make a left turn into her driveway. The vehicle behind her was a GMC Yukon with a 19 year old male driving and he ran into the back of her vehicle, and then both of those vehicles then crossed into the oncoming southbound traffic lane where two southbound vehicles crashed into them, so we ended up with a four vehicle crash.”

Bennett said the victim was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash.

“The seat belt certainly helped, however in this case, she got rear ended very hard from behind and then was t-boned by an oncoming vehicle in the traffic lane, so, she took two severe hits and one of them being in the side of the vehicle where the seatbelt isn't nearly as effective as it is for a front or rear crash.”

A Montana Highway Patrol dispatcher confirmed that neither excessive speed, alcohol nor drugs were a factor in the crash.

Sergeant Bennett said all drivers must be totally focused on their driving, especially on such a busy highway.

“We have too many people going too fast, and then distracted driving is always an issue too,” he said. “A lot of people are driving down the road just not focusing on staying in their traffic lane and watching for other cars or distracted by whatever it might be, such as electronic devices or whatever they have going on.”

Another contributing factor to the fatal crash was that there was no center turn lane for the victim to access when the accident occurred.

“As most of us know, there is a center turn lane in much of Highway 93 between Missoula and Hamilton where it's a four lane like that, and those center turn lanes have helped quite a bit” he said. “But there are still areas where there is no center turn lane and people do have to slow down to turn left off of those roads. So I've cautioned everybody just be very diligent about what's going on in front of them. There could be a car at a complete stop in front of them for a legitimate reason and you need to be aware of that.”

Three others were injured on scene, two were transported to St. Patrick Hospital, and the third self-reported to Community Medical Center in Missoula.

The roads were bare and wet at the time of the accident, according to the Montana Highway Patrol.

 

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