2 dead, 3 seriously injured in head-on collisions in Richland, WA

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WSP Trooper Chris Thorson shared this photo of the scene of a fatal accident on Highway 240 west of Richland near Horn Rapids that occurred early Thursday morning. One person died and three others were in critical condition.

Washington State Patrol

Two passengers died in separate head-on collisions about 45 minutes apart in Richland Thursday morning.

Benedict J. Biegler, 56, of Yakima, was in a pickup truck traveling east on Highway 240 when he was killed, the Washington State Patrol said in a memo.

Victor L. Groves, 50, of Outlook, was the driver of the truck that crossed the center line at about 6:10 a.m. just outside the city limits near the Horn Rapids Golf Course.

The pickup struck a Ford Focus head-on, WSP Trooper Chris Thorson said.

Then a Mercedes E-Class, also traveling west, collided with the pickup and the car.

Biegler died at the scene of the crime. Groves and Focus driver Charlette J. Burghard, 25, of Richland, were in critical condition and were taken to Richland’s Kadlec Regional Medical Center.

The driver of the Mercedes, Leiah E. Peale, 57, of Kennewick, was taken to Trios Southridge Hospital in serious condition.

A third passenger in the truck, Jamie L. Bossert, 42, of Moxee, was taken to Trios Southridge Hospital. His condition was not immediately known.

Investigators have not determined why the driver ran into oncoming traffic on the narrow freeway known as the Hanford Highway.

Second crash

A second crash, also involving a pickup truck and a car, occurred just before 7 a.m. near the intersection of George Washington Way and Comstock Street, Richland Police Commander Jon Schwarder said.

A truck and limousine collided, killing Ernesto Moreno, 26, who was a passenger in the limousine.

Benton County Coroner Bill Leach said Moreno was originally from Walla Walla, but it wasn’t immediately known where he currently resides. An autopsy is scheduled for Friday.

Initial reports said the pickup truck was traveling north on George Washington Way and the sedan was heading south as the sedan entered the northbound lanes.

The names of the drivers were not released on Thursday.

Firefighters had to cut open at least one of the vehicles to get people out, according to reports. Another person was injured in the crash.

This story was originally published Feb 10, 2022 9:12 am.

Cameron Probert reports breaking news and education for the Tri-City Herald, where he tries to answer readers’ questions about why cops and firefighters are in your neighborhood. He studied communications at Washington State University.

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