The crashes that closed Highway 12 west of Touchet for most of Saturday afternoon left a Tri-City pastor critically injured and sent 13 other people to area hospitals.
Brent Johnsen — a pastor at Eastlake Tri-Cities church, which meets in the Uptown Theatre in Richland — was in critical condition Sunday at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland. Johnsen was driving a car involved in the second of two crashes Saturday.
At 12:50 p.m., Ryan Watson, 28, of Richland lost control of the Chrysler PT Cruiser he was driving west on the highway about eight miles west of Touchet, police said.
He crossed into the eastbound lane and hit a Toyota Camry driven by Angel Rivera, 32, of Hermiston, and a Chevrolet pickup driven by Rene Soto, 24, of Salem, Ore., police said.
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All three drivers were injured, along with their passengers, including Beatriz Soto Lopez, 32, of Hermiston; children ages 5, 9, 12 and 13 from Hermiston; and a 6-year-old from Salem.
Watson was taken to Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland, and other patients were taken to St. Mary Medical Center in Walla Walla.
Watson was driving too fast for road conditions and may be charged with second degree negligent driving, state patrol said.
Kadlec reported that Watson was treated and released. Information on patients taken to St. Mary was not available Sunday afternoon.
The highway was closed after the crash until about 2:20 p.m. But 30 minutes later, another crash closed the highway again until shortly before 6 p.m., according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.
Johnsen, 33, of Pasco, was driving a Chevrolet Traverse westbound about two miles east of the earlier crash and ran into a semi stopped for traffic, the patrol said.
The semi was driven by Robert Dilley, 62, of Pasco, the only person involved in the crashes who was not taken to a hospital.
Johnsen’s four passengers were taken to St. Mary. They were David Magill, 35, of Pasco; Rebecca Magill, 28, of Pasco; Blaine Charette, 61, of Edmonds, Wash.; and an 11-year-old boy from Pasco.
Johnsen may be charged with second-degree negligent driving, the patrol said. He is listed in critical condition at Kadlec.