A carload of orchard workers crossed a highway center line near Burbank and slammed head-on into a car, killing both drivers and hospitalizing three others.
Kyaw Na, 34, was heading east on Highway 124 about 4:20 a.m. when he careened into a Pontiac driven by a Burbank man who had just finished delivering newspapers for the Tri-City Herald.
Na and John Wayne Dillon, 63, were killed instantly, said Washington State Patrol investigators.
The collision happened near where four other workers, also employees of Broetje Orchards in Prescott, were killed in 2002.
Two weathered crosses and plastic flowers still mark the site along the rural stretch of farmland nine miles east of Burbank in Walla Walla County.
On Thursday, Dillon had just finished delivering his wife’s paper route for the Herald when Na’s Honda crossed into the westbound lanes.
WSP Sgt. Brian Mehelick said Na may have been passing another vehicle at the time.
Na was from Kennewick and worked at Broetje Orchards along with his three Kennewick passengers — Sha Be, 22, Pae Moo, 45, and Win Paw, 24, state patrol said.
Two of the passengers suffered life-threatening injuries and the third was seriously injured. All were taken to Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland.
Be and Paw were listed in critical condition Thursday night, while Moo was in satisfactory condition.
Dillon’s wife, Cheryl, who contracts with the Herald, said she didn’t feel up to talking about her husband Thursday but said her family has been delivering the newspapers for more than 35 years.
Broetje officials confirmed the workers were their employees but declined to talk further.
In all, 10 people died in two other crashes on Highway 124 in the past 13 years.
In 2002, six Broetje workers were headed to the orchard about 6:45 a.m. when the Crown Victoria they were in collided with a Dodge Caravan.
Four people — ranging in age from 22 to 30 — in the Crown Victoria were killed. And a Walla Walla man in the minivan also died.
The driver of the Crown Victoria, Ismael Sotelo, eventually pleaded guilty to DUI after prosecutors agreed to drop vehicular homicide and assault charges.
In 2007, five members of the same extended family died when the driver of a Toyota Camry smashed head-on into a semi-truck. The driver of the Camry most likely nodded off.
The family was from Lapwai, Idaho, and they were on their way to a memorial service for the one-year anniversary of a relative who died in an Oregon car crash.