A 22-year old Montana State University student died, and four other people suffered serious injuries after two vehicles collided Sunday on Highway 12 a few miles east of East Helena.

The head-on crash occurred around 2 p.m. when a black sport utility vehicle traveling eastbound attempted to pass multiple cars.

The driver of a blue two-door car was traveling westbound and swerved onto the shoulder to avoid the oncoming SUV, but the driver of the SUV also swerved and the two vehicles collided, according to Montana Highway Patrol.

“They hit head on in the ditch,” trooper David Gleich said.

A passenger in the SUV, identified as Carolyn Thompson of Eugene, Ore., died on the scene of massive internal injuries, according to Lewis and Clark County Coroner Mickey Nelson.

Both drivers and the other two passengers in the SUV were transported to St. Peter’s Hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries, according to MHP Sgt. Jay Nelson. All were extricated from the vehicles.

Sgt. Nelson said authorities believe all four individuals traveling in the SUV were students at Montana State University but added that the investigation into the crash is ongoing.

Gleich said all passengers except the driver of the SUV were wearing seat belts.

The crash was caused by the unsafe passing maneuver during inclement weather, MHP officials said.

Traffic in both directions was stopped, then slowed, for several hours after the crash.

Reporter Derek Brouwer can be reached at derek.brouwer@helenair.com or 447-4081. Follow Derek on Twitter @IR_DerekBrouwer

Education and business reporter. Twitter: @IR_DerekBrouwer

(9) comments

chaotic
chaotic

My sincere condolences to the family of the passenger that didn't make it. One can only hope that a tragedy like this will make people SLOW down on these icy, snowy roads! I've lived here and driven in it my entire life and I am constantly shocked by the way I see people driving in this weather. Just because you are driving a 4wd pick up or SUV does not mean you don't need to slow down and drive cautiously!

dietz1963
dietz1963

Tragically chaotic, these things continue despite the word getting out there more then ever before thanks to the internet, cell phones.

GreatWhite
GreatWhite

The driver attempted an unsafe passing maneuver during inclement weather. It sounds more like inexperience was the main factor, not the type of vehicle. Believe it or not, driving too slow can also cause problems under the right conditions.

Driving cautiously should be done no matter the road conditions, it just so happens there are other factors to adjust to during snow storms.

FlamingLiberal1
FlamingLiberal1

Agreed! This tragedy was totally avoidable. SLOW. DOWN.

bry
bry

people will not slow down. it is human nature. the victim was my niece and our life will be forever changed

GreatWhite
GreatWhite

My condolences for your, and your families, loss.

remybon
remybon

the white crosses on the highway are a constant reminder to me to drive carefully, i can only hope other drivers will take that same caution, snowy or not.

conservmom
conservmom

Dangerous conditions combined with impairment is a recipe for tragedy as we can see here.

Ifyouonlyknew
Ifyouonlyknew

Condolences to the family.

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