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Jun-25-2008 14:27printcomments

Police Say Illegal Pass Caused Death of Motorcyclist

Crash happened on Highway 221 near Hopewell Road, north of Salem.

(DAYTON, Ore.) - Police say one person was killed and another seriously injured in a three-vehicle fatal traffic crash Tuesday evening on Highway 221 north of Salem. Troopers are still seeking contact with two occupants of a third vehicle who reportedly walked away from the scene before they could be identified.

Oregon State Police Sergeant Dale Young says that at approximately 7:07 PM, a green 1997 Ford Escort four-door driven by 50-year old September Marie Hawks of southeast Salem, was northbound on Highway 221 near milepost 12 when it attempted to pass a vehicle in a no passing zone.

"The Ford clipped a northbound travel trailer and continued into the southbound lane where it crashed head-on with a 2004 Harley Davidson motorcycle", Young says the bike was ridden by 47-year old Brian Ron Behling of Salem.

He says that after initial impact, the motorcycle was struck by a southbound gray 1991 Toyota Tercel with two unidentified occupants. According to Young, the motorcycle and Toyota both caught fire, but the Toyota's two occupants were able to get out with the assistance of people who stopped at the scene.

Brian Behling was pronounced deceased at the scene. He was wearing a protective helmet.

Hawks was seriously injured. She was transported by LifeFlight to Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland. She is reported in critical condition. Witnesses reported Hawks' car was driving erratically, Young said.

Dayton Fire Department personnel responded and extinguished the fire. Young says some two people involved in the crash left the scene.

"After remaining at the scene for a few minutes, the Toyota's two occupants were seen walking away southbound from the scene and have not been identified. They are only described as two Hispanic males. Investigators need to interview both men and they are asked to call Oregon State Police Northern Command Center dispatch at 800-452-7888."

Highway 221 was closed about 4 1/2 hours. ODOT and other local emergency responding agencies assisted at the scene.

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