KALISPELL – Authorities tell MTN News that alcohol is a suspected to have played a role in a crash Thursday afternoon between Kalispell and Columbia Falls that left two people dead.
Drivers in the area had alerted local law enforcement of a possible drunk driver on U.S. Highway 2 in the area of Glacier Park International Airport.
"Local law enforcement in the area were trying to get to the location to try to get this vehicle stopped, unfortunately before anybody could get over to where they were at the crash occurred," said Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Jerry Ren.
Trooper Ren says a 27-year-old Kalispell man driving a 2008 Chevy Silverado pickup crossed into the center turn lane and struck a 2018 Ford F150 head-on killing both drivers and fully engulfing both vehicles in flames.
The other driver was a 56-year-old woman from South Carolina.
Trooper Ren says they’re pending results from the coroner confirming alcohol is a factor in the crash.
"I don’t know what the driver was thinking or not thinking, I can tell you based on what I know is that the driver that caused the crash was coming across so I’m sure that the perception was that the driver was coming across in the turn lane to possibly make a left turn and I’m sure that before they knew it the vehicle was in their lane and they probably didn’t have any time to react," said Trooper Ren.
He says it also prompts a safety message to drive defensibly.
"As long as you’re paying more attention, I’m not saying you can possibly avoid a crash but if you’re paying more attention to your surroundings, maybe looking further ahead than you normally do, maybe you might have been able to do something," Trooper Ren said.
The names of the victims have not yet been released.