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UPDATED: Five vehicles involved in Monday evening crash

Updated 10:20 a.m.

A Central Point man's failure to slow down in merging traffic near an Interstate 5 work zone caused a five-vehicle crash that killed a Rogue River woman Monday, a preliminary investigation by Oregon State Police shows.

A news release from OSP says the accident happened near the southbound off-ramp of exit 43 in a work zone where the left lane was closed. Traffic was merging from the left lane to the right lane due to road work. 

Four of the vehicles were in the process of moving into the right lane when a Ford Escape SUV driven by 31-year-old Steven Coleman allegedly failed to slow down and smashed into the back of a 1995 Oldsmobile Cutlass. That collision caused the Oldsmobile to crash into the back of a Hyundai Santa Fe, which then slammed into a Subaru Forester and a Dodge Neon.

The passenger in the Oldsmobile, 49-year-old Michele Lauritzen, was pronounced dead at the scene. She was wearing a seatbelt. Driver Gerald Kirk, 65, was transported to Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries. The Santa Fe driver, 25-year-old Marie Murphy, was uninjured. A passenger in the Forester received minor injuries in the crash and was transported to a local hospital. 

Coleman was not injured. There have not been any charges filed thus far, as the investigation is ongoing. Police said in the news release that Coleman is cooperating with law enforcement. 

OSP and Oregon Department of Transportation responders had the scene cleared by about 10:30 p.m.

Police urged drivers to be cautious in work zones, as crashes in them are often more severe than other types of crashes. Most work zone crashes are caused by inattention or speeding. 

8:15 a.m.

A woman died Monday evening in a five-vehicle crash that temporarily closed Interstate 5's right southbound lane and exit 43 offramp two miles south of Rogue River.

Oregon State Police has not yet released the woman's name but has said it will later today, along with information on the crash's cause.

The crash was reported at 5:20 p.m. Monday. Five vehicles were involved in the accident, located at the bottom of the southbound offramp at exit 43. Injuries to other drivers were also reported. The southbound right lane and the exit were blocked, causing traffic snags and delays for motorists. All lanes reopened by about 10:30 p.m.

OSP and the Oregon Department of Transportation worked the scene. We will update this story when more information is available.

— Ryan Pfeil