The driver of a sport utility vehicle was ejected and died at the scene Friday after his silver Ford Escape drifted into the oncoming lane of traffic on Highway 62, crashing head-on into a Darigold tractor-trailer, Oregon State Police said.
Investigators have identified the driver of the SUV as Kim Pitzl, 59, of Medford.
The crash north of Eagle Point was reported just before noon Friday and closed both lanes of the Highway 62 stretch for nearly four hours. Northbound traffic was rerouted on Ball Road; southbound traffic was detoured onto Highway 234, OSP said.
It is not yet known what caused the SUV to drift into the oncoming lane, said OSP Senior Trooper Bill Matson. Pitzl was traveling westbound on Highway 62 at milepost 62 when his SUV crossed over the center lane divider line into the eastbound lane where he almost collided with another vehicle, according to a news release.
Pitzl's vehicle then collided nearly head on with a 2007 white Frightliner truck-tractor towing an unloaded 2008 48-foot box trailer driven by Bryan Thompson, 44, of Medford. Thompson was not injured, but Pitzl was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.
Both the Escape and the tractor-truck, which was headed southbound, sustained heavy front-end damage in the crash, according to witnesses on the scene. The tractor-trailer blocked both lanes of Highway 62 about a quarter-mile north of the Ball Road intersection while an OSP crash reconstruction team and Oregon Department of Transportation crews continued their investigation.
Just before the crash, troopers received reports of an earlier driver complaint for a "silver SUV" driving erratically on Highway 62. Troopers were in the process of responding to investigate the driving complaint when the crash occurred. OSP troopers are continuing their investigation into the cause of the crash to include whether or not intoxicants were a possible contributing factor.
All lanes of traffic reopened at 3:45 p.m., ODOT officials said.