Five Vancouver residents injured Thursday in Oregon vehicle crash

Officials investigating whether alcohol was involved in the head-on collision

By Stevie Mathieu, Columbian assistant metro editor

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Six people were hospitalized Thursday after a pickup crossed the center line on state Highway 30 near Astoria, Ore., and hit a car containing three adults and two children, all of whom are from Vancouver. Oregon State Police officers are investigating whether the truck's driver had been drinking.

The wreck happened at about 4:10 p.m. Thursday, when Sharon Ritola, 70, of Astoria lost control of a 2003 Chevrolet S-10, according to Oregon State Police. The truck, which was heading west near milepost 85, collided head-on with a 2003 Volvo four-door car.

The Volvo's driver, Tyler Van Sant, 24, was seriously injured and transported to Columbia Memorial Hospital in Astoria. Later, he was transferred to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver, where he is in satisfactory condition.

A 22-year-old man, Kota Kuwae, was seated in the front passenger seat at the time of the collision. He was transported to Columbia Memorial Hospital with injuries that weren't life threatening.

The remaining passengers in the Volvo -- a 24-year-old woman named Ayumi Griffin, a 3-year-old girl and a 6-year-old girl -- were taken to Providence Seaside Hospital in Seaside, Ore., with minor injuries.

During the crash, Ritola was flung from the truck and was seriously hurt. She was transported to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland and is in serious condition.

Officials responding to the wreck closed Highway 30 for several hours and put up a detour around the collision site.

Astoria-based OSP troopers are investigating the cause of the crash. OSP was assisted at the scene on Thursday by the Clatsop County Sheriff's Office, the Knappa Fire District, Medix Ambulance Service and the Oregon Department of Transportation.

During the holiday season, law enforcement agencies are increasing their efforts to catch drivers who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, according to OSP.