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2 people dead after vehicle crashes into Clark Fork River

2 dead after vehicle falls into Clark Fork River in Missoula
Posted at 1:15 PM, Nov 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-16 09:51:15-05

(UPDATE, 4:00 p.m.) Missoula County Sheriff and Coroner TJ McDermott confirmed that the two individuals who were transported to St. Patrick's hospital have died from their injuries after a vehicle crash on I-90 between Bonner and East Missoula.

Sheriff McDermott identified the victims as 42-year-old Jason E. Brandle and 5-year-old Abel Hamlin, both of Helena.

The third person in the vehicle who was injured, a 37-year-old Helena woman, is reportedly in stable condition at St. Patrick's.

According to Montana Highway Patrol, the three were traveling westbound on I-90 Saturday night in a 2010 Jeep Cherokee. MHP said around mile marker 109, the Jeep went off the roadway to the right and hit a guardrail, corrected to left, continued across lanes of traffic, and broke through the guardrail.

The vehicle was then vaulted into the river, and the woman was ejected from the vehicle. She was later found on the river bank and sent to St. Patrick’s Hospital in Missoula for injuries.

The Jeep came to rest in the middle of the river, submerged in water. Missoula Search and Rescue recovered the vehicle with the man and boy still inside. They were taken to St. Patrick’s Hospital, where they succumbed to their injuries.

Both Brandle and Hamlin were wearing seatbelts; the woman passenger was not wearing her seatbelt, according to MHP.

MHP said alcohol and speed are suspected factors in the crash, and the investigation is ongoing.



(UPDATE, 12:55 p.m.) Missoula County Sheriff and Coroner TJ McDermott confirmed that the two individuals who were transported to St. Patrick's hospital Saturday night after their vehicle fell into the Clark Fork River have died from their injuries.

Sheriff McDermott identified the victims as 42-year-old Jason E. Brandle and 5-year-old Abel Hamlin, both of Helena. A third person in the vehicle survived and is in stable condition at St. Patrick Hospital.

The crash occurred on Interstate 90 between Bonner and East Missoula at around 9 p.m. Saturday. The Montana Highway Patrol is investigating what happened.

In a tweet early Sunday morning, MHP Trooper TJ Templeton wrote: "The worst kind of call tonight. Devastating loss of lives. And the absolute gut wrenching loss of a young life. Hug your loved ones. Hold your children tight. It matters. They matter. You matter. I’m lost for words..."

A reporter has reached out to the Montana Highway Patrol for more information. We will update you when we learn more.



(FIRST REPORT) Missoula County Search and Rescue responded Saturday night to a vehicle that left I-90 near mile marker 108 and entered the Clark Fork River.

The Missoula County Sheriff's Office said on Facebook that three people were in the vehicle when it entered the river around 9 p.m. Saturday.

One person was able to get out; the other two were transported to St. Patrick Hospital.

The Montana Highway Patrol and the Missoula Rural Fire District also responded to the incident. MHP is investigating the crash.

No further information was available about the incident or the current condition of the two people taken to the hospital.

We will update this story as we learn more details.