Teen girl killed in fiery crash as driver tried to pass semi trucks on Hanford Reach monument

A 15-year-old girl died in a crash about two miles east of the Vernita Bridge.
A 15-year-old girl died in a crash about two miles east of the Vernita Bridge. Google Maps

A 15-year-old Mattawa girl who was a passenger in a vehicle driven by another teen was killed and three other people were hurt in a crash that happened as the teen driver was attempting to pass two semi trucks on the Hanford Reach National Monument.

Witnesses said Felix N. Rangel Diaz, 18, of Mattawa, kept passing traffic around 5 a.m. Thursday along Highway 24 — a two-lane highway that runs through south Grant County, north Benton County and into Adams County.

Rangel Diaz was heading east and was cresting a hill when he slammed into a PT Cruiser occupied by a husband and wife in their 60s, Kenneth and Karen Crawford, of Mesa, heading in the opposite direction, said Washington State Patrol Trooper John Bryant.

The crash killed the teen’s 15-year-old passenger and the cars burst into flames.

Rangel Diaz and the Crawfords were flown to Kadlec Regional Medical Center with serious injuries, WSP said.

Highway 24 was closed from the Vernita Bridge on Columbia River to the Adams County line for more than five hours while police investigated.

Cameron Probert covers breaking news and education for the Tri-City Herald, where he tries to answer readers’ questions about why police officers and firefighters are in your neighborhood. He studied communications at Washington State University.