A man and child from Helena were killed Saturday night when their vehicle went off Interstate 90 and vaulted into the Clark Fork River, where it lay submerged until responding agencies were able to pull it out, according to Montana Highway Patrol.
The Missoula County Sheriff's Office on Sunday identified those killed in the crash as 42-year-old Jason E. Brandle and 5-year-old Abel Hamlin, both of Helena.
A 37-year-old woman survived the crash, MHP Sgt. Sean Finley said Sunday. She was thrown from the vehicle as it went off the interstate. She was found on the riverbank and transported to the Providence St. Patrick hospital, Finley said. The sheriff's office said the woman was in stable condition.
Highway patrol received a report at 7:57 p.m. Saturday. The initial investigation indicated the vehicle, a Jeep Cherokee, was traveling westbound on I-90 when it veered off to the right and struck the guardrail, Finley said. The driver, the 42-year-old man, overcorrected, crossed both lanes of traffic and continued through the opposite guardrail, sending the Jeep into the river near mile marker 109. The road was wet at the time of the crash, Finley said.
Missoula County Search and Rescue, Missoula County Sheriff's Office, Missoula Rural Fire District and Missoula Emergency Services Inc. were among the responding agencies to assist Montana Highway Patrol.
Agencies were able to pull the vehicle from the river, Finley said. The Missoula County Sheriff's Office said in a social media post Saturday night the man and boy were taken to the hospital.
Montana Highway Patrol Trooper TJ Templeton spoke out about the crash on Twitter at 1 a.m. Sunday.
"The worst kind of call tonight. Devastating loss of lives. And the absolute gut wrenching loss of a young life. Hug your loved ones. Hold your children tight. It matters. They matter. You matter."
Finley was unable to confirm the group was a family on Sunday but said the boy and the woman had the same last name.
The investigation into the crash remains ongoing, Finley said.
The two deaths make the 177th and 178th this year on Montana highways.