NEAR STAYTON, Ore. (KOIN) – When the Stayton Fire Department received the call about a head-on accident on Highway 22 Tuesday night they knew it involved one of their own.
The driver of a Kia Spectra drifted across the center line, crossed into oncoming traffic and collided head-on with an eastbound 2003 Dodge Durango, police said.
The driver of the Spectra, Nicholas Adam Baker, 27, and his passenger, Deza Rae Byro, 20, died at the scene. Both were from Salem.
Byro was a West Salem High School graduate. Her orchestra teacher said she was a talented viola player and won an award at high school for being an optimist.
Emergency crews used the Jaws of Life to pull Chelsea Neeper, 19, and driver Erin Long, 18, from the Dodge Durango. Both were taken to the hospital in serious condition.
Long just started as a resident volunteer for the Stayton Fire Department.
“She’s still part of the family. She’s just a new part of the family,” Assistant Fire Chief Jay Alley told KOIN 6 News. “They knew that was her and they did their job and they got her into great care.”
Both of Long’s legs were injured and she remains in Legacy Hospital in Portland. Neeper was treated and has been released.
Neeper and Long graduated from Stayton High School and are college-bound. Neeper is set to attend Chemeketa Community and Long is to start in the fall training as a paramedic.
“It’s always difficult for responders,” Alley said. “It’s even more difficult when you know somebody but it’s also very difficult with younger aged, teenaged people, people who are just recently out of high school and such young lives.”
The Oregon State Police continue to investigate the crash and said alcohol may have been responsible.
Funeral services for Byro and Baker are pending.