Thursday, March 5, 2015/lk
ORONDO Charges are pending against a Yakima man who apparently fell asleep at the wheel, with his box truck then crossing the centerline and crashing into a car and a loaded school bus Thursday morning.
The crash killed the car’s driver, 22-year-old Carmela Cuellar-Morales of Orondo.
Box truck driver Kenneth A. Hahn, 54, was injured in the crash and taken to Confluence Health/Central Washington Hospital in Wenatchee, the Washington State Patrol said.
The 8:10 a.m. crash closed U.S. Highway 97 for several hours while the wreckage was cleared and the investigation took place. Traffic between Wenatchee and Chelan was advised to use U.S. Highway 97A along the west side of the Columbia River.
The patrol said Hahn was northbound when his truck crossed the centerline and hit Cuellar-Morales’ southbound car. The truck continued northbound and hit the school bus, which was following Cuellar-Morales’ car.
After impact, the car went off the road’s right side, overturned and went over an embankment. Cuellar-Morales was wearing a seatbelt.
A passenger in Cuellar Morales’ car, Aurora Cuellar-Morales, 12, of Orondo, was injured and was taken by ambulance to the hospital. She was wearing a seatbelt.
Also injured and taken by ambulance to the hospital were Hahn and a passenger, Michael R. Driver, 36, of Yakima, and bus driver Pamela K. Robertson, 53, of Orondo. All were wearing seatbelts.
The patrol said numerous Orondo school students on the bus were injured. They were taken by ambulance, school bus and private vehicle to the hospital.
Approximately 43 students were taken to the hospital, Douglas County Sheriff Harvey Gjesdal said.
Carmela Cuellar-Morales’ body was taken to the morgue in a Sheriff’s Office pickup truck because there were no ambulances available, Gjesdal said.
All three vehicles were heavily damaged and were impounded.
It’s not known whether drugs or alcohol were involved, the patrol said. Charges against Hahn are pending.