WARM SPRINGS, Ore. – A vehicle that may have contained burglary suspects zoomed away from an officer at a traffic stop but minutes later crashed broadside into an oncoming tribal police car, killing three adults and a child, authorities said Thursday.
The collision late Wednesday happened just east of the rural Warm Springs Indian Reservation in Central Oregon, authorities said.
A Warm Springs officer was hospitalized with broken bones. A second child from the fleeing vehicle was hospitalized. Names of the dead and injured are expected to be released Friday, authorities said.
A deputy stopped the vehicle on U.S. 26 after witnesses in the nearby town of Madras reported it had been used to flee a burglary where shots were fired, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office said.
As the deputy walked up to the vehicle, however, it pulled away into the dark and was quickly out of sight, the sheriff's office account said.
The deputy returned to his vehicle, gave chase and within a mile and a half came on the crashed vehicles.
The traffic stop followed a business burglary earlier in the evening at a business in Madras, about 10 miles southeast, said sheriff's Sgt. Bryan Skidgel.
He said the city's police department is investigating, but the reported shots did not involve officers and nobody was hit. The police department wouldn't provide further details.
The State Police said its investigation showed the fleeing vehicle went out of control and slid sideways into the oncoming lane, smashing into the Warm Springs car. Skidgel said the tribal officer had been on the way to provide backup for the sheriff's deputy at the traffic stop.
The crash site is on a long descent into the canyon of the Deschutes River, which forms the county-reservation boundary. Police said the grade, about 4.5 percent at the crash site, isn't believed to have contributed to the collision.