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Ashland man dies after car hits truck

An Ashland man died Tuesday night when his car struck a semi-trailer head-on about four miles north of Gilchrist on Highway 97 south of Bend.

Klaas Van De Pol, 79, was a passenger in a 1992 Volvo driven by his wife when at around 3:45 p.m. it drifted across the center line near milepost 183 and struck a northbound commercial truck towing a tanker, Oregon State Police officials said in a news release.

Van De Pol, who was wearing a safety belt, died of injuries received in the crash. His 79-year-old wife was transported to St. Charles Medical Center in Bend where she remained late Wednesday in fair condition. She was wearing a safety belt and the driver's-side air bag deployed, hospital officials said.

The semi caught fire after the impact. It continued down the road in flames before the driver managed to stop it and escape. The tanker was full of a fertilizer product that did not spill, OSP said.

The 49-year-old semi driver from California was not injured, OSP said.

Oregon Department of Transportation crews closed Highway 97 for about five hours during the clean-up and investigation. One lane was opened at around 8 p.m., OSP said.

Fire crews from Crescent and Chemult assisted OSP troopers from Gilchrist, Bend and Klamath Falls.

Driver fatigue is being investigated as a possible cause of the crash, OSP said.