One dead, five injured in crash
MEYERS – A Montana woman died and five people were injured Wednesday in a two-car crash on the south side of Luther Pass that closed Highway 89 for a few hours.
Bertha Oster, 41, of Belgrade, Mont., died at the scene of the head-on accident that occurred at 11 a.m. She represents the third fatality this year in the California Highway Patrol Tahoe jurisdiction, which averages six a year.
Two people were transported via CALSTAR and Careflight helicopters to Washoe Medical Center in Reno and three others were taken by ground ambulance to Barton Memorial Hospital.
Keith Wyatt, 26, of Gardnerville was driving a white Ford van heading south on Highway 89 when he apparently crossed into the lane and collided with a green Dodge Caravan going the opposite direction, according to the CHP. He received major injuries.
The green van was demolished in a ditch. All its passengers were also injured, including: Nonam Bosche, 75, of Valley Springs; Evangeline Bosche, 79; and Ruth and Keith Oster, both 49, and from Belgrade.
As of Wednesday evening, Barton reported receiving Evangeline Bosche and Keith Oster, the latter being in surgery as of 6:15 p.m.
It appeared at least most of the passengers were wearing their seatbelts, but an investigation is ongoing.
“With significant force like this, it looks like high speed,” CHP Officer Tracy Sturges said. “Our accident picture here is pretty diverse. There’s not really a pattern. There may be a greater propensity on weekends or holidays, but the only common theme is mountain driving.”
The CHP closed the major thoroughfare for two hours then opened it up for another hour to one lane. It responded along with El Dorado and Alpine counties units and Lake Valley Fire Department.
“You wouldn’t think this would be an accident site,” Lake Valley Battalion Chief Gareth Harris said. The road slightly curves but is mainly a straight line to Pickett’s Junction, where Highways 89 and 88 meet.
Lake Valley Fire handled the extrication of victims. The crew had just gone through an extensive training exercise to hone those skills.