Photo contributed by Oregon State Police
PENDLETON — Two people died from crashes on state highways in Umatilla County in the span of two days over the Labor Day weekend. Oregon State Police on Tuesday identified the victims.
James Edward Tincher, 41, of Walla Walla, died in a head-on crash Sunday night north of Milton-Freewater. The multi-vehicle wreck also injured five, including two children.
Tincher was driving a 1998 Ford Mustang south on Highway 11 at a high speed, according to state police, and slammed into the back of a 1991 Ford Escort. The Mustang crossed into the northbound lanes and smashed into a 2002 Chevy Suburban.
Tincher died in the crash before emergency responders arrived, according to state police. The crash shut down the highway for about six hours.
State police reported Horacio J. Mendoza Castillo, 25, of Milton-Freewater, drove the Escort and had one passenger, a 24-year-old man also from Milton-Freewater. Jason Lee Morgan, 40, of Baker City, drove the Suburban. His wife, Kara Morgan, 36, and their two children, a 6-year-old boy and 9-year-old girl, were passengers.
State police reported local ambulances took five victims from the crash to Providence St. Mary Medical Center, Walla Walla. The Morgan family via social media reported the hospital released them the night of the crash.
State police also reported a fatal crash in the south end of Umatilla County.
A caller at about 2 p.m. Monday reported a pickup in a ditch off the northbound side of Highway 395 near milepost 53. State police found the pickup rolled into a creek, and Alexander Ionita, 62, the driver and lone occupant, died inside the vehicle.
Ionita, of Salem, failed to negotiate a turn and rolled down an embankment into Camas Creek. He was wearing a seatbelt, according to OSP, but was badly injured and pronounced dead at the scene.