Two rural Hot Springs residents escaped life-threatening injuries during a one-vehicle crash Thursday morning, May 9 in Lake County near Elmo.
Shawn Loewen, 46, apparently fell asleep while driving a 2002 Kia Rio eastbound on Montana 28 shortly after 10 a.m., about one-half mile from the junction of U.S. 93. His only passenger was 48-year-old Misty Loewen.
According to Montana Highway Patrol Sgt. Jim Schneider, the four-passenger sedan drifted off the north edge of the highway — going through the barrow pit and crashing through a rail fence.
Schneider’s investigation showed that parts of broken poles from the fence went through the front right wheel well and the windshield. One of the fragments impacted the left side of Misty Loewen’s abdomen. There were also post fragments in the car’s grille.
The driver’s side airbag deployed while there was no deployment of a passenger airbag, according to Schneider.
The car came to rest after traveling more than 200 yards across an open field near a home. None of the tires on the Kia was deflated during the crash, and the vehicle did not roll over.
FIRST RESPONDERS were on the scene within minutes of the incident. Responding to the scene were personnel and equipment from the Chief Cliff Volunteer Fire Department and QRU (Quick Response Unit) of Elmo/Dayton/Proctor/Lake Mary Ronan, the Polson Rural Fire Department, Polson Ambulance, Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Montana Highway Patrol and Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Police. Chief Cliff Fire Captain Brent Bacon was the incident commander at the scene.
Within 30 minutes of the crash, an ALERT helicopter landed in the field near the site of the crash.
In order to avoid further injury to Misty Loewen, it took emergency personnel about 45 minutes to extricate her from the vehicle. They peeled off the roof of the sedan, and removed the passenger seat back in order to accommodate the extrication.
Once removed, Loewen was transported to Kalispell Regional Medical Center by the ALERT helicopter.
“By all rights I would have expected it to be worse,” Schneider said of Loewen’s injuries.
When he checked in at the hospital, he was informed that Loewen had non-life threatening injuries. Shawn Loewen was treated for minor injuries and released Thursday afternoon.
No citations were issued at the scene.