UPDATE: Oregon State Police (OSP) has released the name of the driver that went the wrong way on Interstate-5, hitting a car carrying Gisselle (Jennifer) Montano, Luciana Tellez-Cabezas, and Esmeralda Nava—all 18-year-old seniors at Eagle Point High.
OSP says that 65-year-old Gayle Ward of Vancouver, Washington was the driver of the Acura Integra that drove north in the southbound lanes of I-5. Ward was also killed in the crash, and OSP has not yet released any possible explanation for what caused her to turn around that day.
Montano was driving the Nissan Murano carrying her two friends. All three girls were from White City, although they attended Eagle Point High.
(Updated as of 1:44 p.m. on Tuesday, May 22)
EAGLE POINT, Ore. — Monday was the first day back at school for Eagle Point High School students after learning that three of their own were killed in a tragic car accident over the weekend. Luciana Tellez, Giselle Montano, and Esmeralda Nava were driving southbound on I-5 when a wrong-way driver struck them.
"There has been a tragedy in our school district," said Cynda Rickert, superintendent for the Eagle Point School District (EPSD). Rickert held a press conference on Monday to address the heartbreaking incident and how students and staff are coping.
On Sunday, Eagle Point High staff opened the school's doors in the evening hours to allow students a place to go and grieve, share memories, or seek support.
Later that evening, at Burns Park in White City, family and friends of Tellez, Montano and Nava came together for a candlelight vigil in their honor.
Monday, Rickert described the mood on campus as "somber," with plenty of tears shed. But, she said, there was laughter and the sharing of fond memories as well.
Rickert said that the three friends are remembered as joyful, helpful, and "always together." They were seniors at Eagle Point High, preparing for graduation in just a few weeks. Rickert said that all three had worked hard to earn scholarships.
The school and district will continue to work on ways to honor and remember the three young ladies, Rickert said, and their lives which were "cut short way too soon." While plans are still in their infancy, there will likely be a memorial at graduation this year, in addition to the constant rememberances that are going on this week and are likely to continue.
(Updated as of 12:30 p.m. on Monday, May 21)
YONCALLA, Ore. — Oregon State Police say a crash happened in Yoncalla Saturday night around 9:30PM. Police say the crash was caused by a wrong-way driver on Interstate 5.
OSP troopers and emergency responders were dispatched to a two vehicle crash on Interstate 5 southbound near milepost 154.
Preliminary investigation revealed that a red Acura Integra was southbound on Interstate 5 when for unknown reasons turned around and went northbound in the southbound lanes. The Acura Integra continued northbound in the southbound lanes and collided nearly head-on with a southbound Nissan Murano.
Three Eagle Point High School students were inside the Nissan Murano.
Both vehicles caught on fire after the crash. Bystanders were able to remove two passengers from the Nissan Murano. But drivers of both vehicles were not able to be safely removed and died from injuries sustained in the crash.
The two passengers that were removed from the Nissan Murano also both died from injuries sustained in the crash.
In a statement, the school said, "It is with sadness that we inform you that last night three Eagle Point High School students died in a car accident. We have information through the families of Luciana Tellez, Giselle (Jennifer) Montano and Esmeralda Nava. The school will be open for students and staff who wish to be together in this time of grief this afternoon from 4:00 - 6:00.
Es con mucha tristeza que les informamos que anoche tres alumnas de la Preparatoria Eagle Point fallecieron en un accidente automobilistico. Recibimos este informe de las familias de las fallecidas Luciana Tellez, Giselle (Jennifer) Montano y Esmeralda Nava. La prepa estará abierta para estudiantes y empleados que gusten juntarse en este momento de dolor esta tarde de 4:00 - 6:00pm"
Investigators are looking for any witnesses that may have seen the red Acura Integra on Interstate 5 southbound prior to the crash.
Those witnesses can call the Oregon State Police at 541-440-3333 and reference case number SP18-181178.
Interstate 5 southbound was closed for over five (5) hours. Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) set up a detour.
OSP was assisted at the scene by ODOT, North Douglas Fire, South Lane Fire, Bay Cities Ambulance, Sutherlin Police Department, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and Roseburg Towing. OSP was also assisted with the investigation by Clark County, Washington Sheriff’s Office and the Jackson County, Oregon Sheriff’s Office.