Three people died in vehicle crashes on Montana roads earlier this week, with two of the wreckage apparently due to freezing conditions after unusual snowfall.
The fatal crashes occurred in Musselshell, Valley and Lincoln counties, according to statements from the Montana Highway Patrol. The separate accidents occurred during Thursday and Friday and followed a historic blizzard that dumped several feet of snow across the state and brought temperatures below zero in some areas.
A 32-year-old man from North Carolina was driving north on secondary road 537 between Glasgow and Malta on Thursday. He was traveling alone in a van, according to MHP, when the vehicle entered the southbound lane.
The driver over-corrected, sending the truck to the east side of the road. The truck overturned several times before coming to rest on its roof. The force ejected the driver, who was not wearing a seatbelt. Crews transported the driver to Francis Mahon Deaconess Hospital in Glasgow, MHP reported, where he was pronounced dead.
The roads were icy the morning of the accident, and drugs, alcohol and speed are not considered factors.
About 90 minutes after the Valley County wreckage, three Montananese were driving in a Ford Taurus north on U.S. Highway 87. A few miles north of Roundup, the car slid off the road and overturned.
The front seat passenger, a 43-year-old woman from Hysham, was partially ejected and fatally injured in the accident. She was not wearing a seatbelt, according to MHP, and first responders pronounced her dead at the scene. The driver, a 37-year-old man from Brady, and a second passenger, a 25-year-old woman from Great Falls, were taken to Roundup Hospital for treatment for minor injuries.
MHP described the road as icy and speed is also believed to be a factor in the crash.
The next morning, a Libby man died when his car left the road a few miles south of his hometown. The 55-year-old was driving south on Farm to Market Road, MHP reported, when he came to a corner. The car left the road and collided head-on with a tree. Crews said the man, who was also not wearing a seatbelt, died at the scene.
Road conditions were bare and dry, but alcohol is suspected to be a factor in the crash. The three MHP reports are preliminary and the accidents are still under investigation.
More than 35 people have died while driving in Montana so far this year, according to MHP’s latest crash data. However, fatal wrecks are down significantly from the same period last year. As of mid-April 2021, MHP had 55 deaths on state roads.