The Montana Highway Patrol is investigating a fatal accident that occurred in the Bitterroot Valley early Thursday morning, January 9.

Trooper Patrick Heaney said the two-vehicle accident occurred at the intersection of Fairgrounds Road and the Eastside Highway at about 5:30 a.m.

"On the Eastside Highway at Fairgrounds Road, there was a truck going southbound, and a truck going northbound," Heaney said. "The southbound vehicle crossed the center line and went head-on with the northbound vehicle. The two people in the southbound vehicle, a Toyota Tacoma, were injured. One was declared dead at the hospital, the other is in critical condition at St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula. The driver of the other truck, a Northwestern Energy vehicle, was treated and released."

Heaney said both alcohol and speed were factors in the fatal accident.

"Yes, speed and alcohol were both involved," Heaney said. "The roads were wet, but not icy. Neither of the occupants of the southbound truck were wearing seat belts. The driver of the Northwestern Energy truck was wearing a seat belt and was treated and released from the hospital."

Heaney said the accident closed the road for several hours on Thursday morning, and is still under investigation.

Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Patrick Heaney



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