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Weekend crashes on snowy Klamath County roads leave one dead; first responder vehicles damaged

A series of crashes along Highway 97 on Saturday resulted in the death of a Keno man, and battered several patrol cars and a fire engine.

Posted: Dec 14, 2020 11:27 AM

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — Snow-covered roadways in Klamath County resulted in a series of crashes along Highway 97 on Saturday — leaving one man dead, two more injured, and multiple first responder vehicles battered.

Just before 8:45 a.m. on Saturday, three patrol cars from Klamath Falls Police and an engine from Klamath County Fire District #1 lined the side of Highway 97 near Dan Obrien Way while investigating a crash involving a semi-truck and an SUV. All of the vehicles were parked on the west side of the highway, Oregon State Police said.

While police were responding to the first crash, two more semi-trucks came southbound near the crash scene. The first struck a patrol car and the fire engine, OSP said. The second hit all three patrol vehicles and the engine.

According to OSP, the driver of the first semi kept on going southbound and has not been found. The second driver stopped at the scene.

Just minutes later, around 9:10 a.m., another crash occurred further south along Highway 97 near Township Road.

According to an OSP investigation, 82-year-old Ralph Brown of Keno was driving southbound in a Chevrolet pickup when he slid in the snow and entered the northbound line — colliding with a Freightliner semi driven by 44-year-old Rajanikanth Chitravelu of Alberta, Canada.

Brown sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene. His passenger, 28-year-old Thomas Brown, was taken to Sky Lakes Medical Center with injuries of unknown extent. Chitravelu, too, was taken to Sky Lakes for treatment.

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