Fatal collision closes Highway 97 Wednesday

The driver of one vehicle is dead and a second vehicle's driver injured after a head-on collision just south of...

A Tonasket man died Wednesday when his green Jeep Cherokee collided with a red Dodge Nitro driven by an Oroville woman.Photo by Les Bowen

A Tonasket man died Wednesday when his green Jeep Cherokee collided with a red Dodge Nitro driven by an Oroville woman.Photo by Les Bowen

The driver of one vehicle is dead and a second vehicle’s driver injured after a head-on collision just south of Beebe Bridge around 1:15 p.m. Wednesday, according to the Washington State Patrol.

John Harris, 89 of Tonasket, was driving north on Highway 97 when he reportedly crossed the center line. His 1992 Jeep Cherokee collided with a 2007 Dodge Nitro driven by Christine Jensen, 61 of Oroville. Harris was killed in the collision and Jensen’s left knee was fractured, according to WSP reports.

Trooper Rich Magnussen confirmed in a phone interview that Harris’ wife and daughter-in-law were traveling ahead of him and observed the collision in the rear-view mirror.

“We may not ever know what caused this one,” Magnussen said. “We ruled out drugs and alcohol.”

He added that Jensen attempted to avoid the collision by moving into the southbound shoulder.

“She actually scraped down the guardrail,” Magnussen said, noting that Jensen’s actions may have prevented more serious injury to herself. She was taken by ambulance to Lake Chelan Community Hospital in Chelan.

Harris and Jensen were both wearing seatbelts. No citation was issued.

The crash closed U.S. 97 at milepost 235, one mile south of Beebe Bridge. U.S. Highway 97A, which was closed south of Entiat for roadwork this week, reopened to for afternoon traffic. One lane of traffic through the accident area reopened around 2:30 p.m. and both lanes reopened after 4 p.m.

Erinn Unger contributed to this story. Contact Les Bowen at editor@lakechelanmirror.com or call 682-2213.

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