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Deadly road: Stretch of Highway 93 near Arlee seeing multiple fatal accidents

Stretch of U.S. Highway 93 near Arlee has seen five fatal crashes in under a year
Arlee memorial
Arlee speeding
Arlee Volunteer Fire Department Chief Charles Headley
Posted at 12:18 PM, Apr 05, 2023

ARLEE - It's the most common way to go anywhere in Montana — you hop in your car and drive. But it can also be dangerous.

There were 241 fatal crashes in Montana in 2021. That number dropped in 2022 to 198, according to the Montana Highway Patrol.

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Closer to home, the Missoula District reports that deaths on U.S. Highway 93 rose from eight to 13 from 2021 to 2022. One area alone in that district had five of those deaths in the past year.

Reporter Emily Brown visited Arlee to investigate why this area is more prone to fatal crashes. A five-mile section of U.S. Highway 93 near Arlee has seen five fatal crashes in under a year.

“I’ve extricated more, more deceased people than I have people that I can get out of a vehicle and survive,” Arlee Volunteer Fire Department Chief Charles Headley told MTN News. “Four last year, one this year being fatalities is horrible numbers. And it’s, it’s the amount of high-speed crashes that we have.”

Arlee Volunteer Fire Department Chief Charles Headley
“I’ve extricated more, more deceased people than I have people that I can get out of a vehicle and survive,” Arlee Volunteer Fire Department Chief Charles Headley told MTN News.

The speed limit on several sections of U.S. Highway 93 is 70 mph. But very quickly it drops to 55 mph and then 35 mph. Speeding is a major problem in the middle of Arlee and is also a problem in two other areas.

“The section of road that’s kind of...a concerning issue for us...the very beginning after you come down the hill, Highway 93, come down from the casino,” Headley explained. “There’s a corner called “Dirty Corner” … that is a huge piece of where it just makes a slight turn, but if you are going too fast or you’re not paying attention — or you have the slightest distraction, that is where a lot of my crashes happen.”

“And then the next piece when you get through town, the next thing that opens up, “Shaul Flats” is your first straight away and that’s where when people are intoxicated that first straight away when they hit that straight away that’s that, ‘oh well I’m good, I can keep going, I can hit the gas’. Well, that’s what gets them usually is right there,” Headley continued.

Arlee speeding
A five-mile section of U.S. Highway 93 near Arlee has seen five fatal crashes in under a year.

In 2022, a two-vehicle fatal accident occurred at “Dirty Corner” and then just a few days later another two-vehicle fatality took place at “Shaul Flats”. Headley added that on March 31, “We had another fatality. 22-year-old female [walking] along the highway who was hit and killed.

These recent fatal crashes happened between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m., and most victims were under 30.

“Just know that this is one of the deadliest highways out there and be aware of that when you get on it,” Headley advised.

Driving is something we do all the time and Chief Headley's words serve as a reminder to be safer on the roads.