A longtime Missoula musician and radio DJ became Montana’s first highway fatality victim of 2020 early Wednesday when the pickup he was driving was slammed into by another truck north of Arlee on U.S. Highway 93.
Michael “Micki” Singer, 63, died at the scene shortly after 2:30 a.m.
Musician and friend Bob Wire said the music community was "reeling" upon hearing the news of Singer's death, and numerous musicians posted memories of Singer on Facebook, citing not just his talent but his generosity.
A drummer and instructor, Singer played in bands of all types, including the Soul City Cowboys.
He hosted a show, "Local Exposure," on KBGA College Radio 89.9 FM that put the spotlight on local musicians of all ages and genres. The station posted on Facebook that there will be an on-air memorial for Singer on Monday, Jan. 6, from noon to 2 p.m.
"Micki was an asset to this station and the Missoula community. He will be missed," the post said.
According to the Montana Highway Patrol, Singer was traveling south in his Chevy Avalanche when a northbound GMC Sierra drifted to the left, crossed the lane divider and both oncoming lanes.
The Sierra, driven by a 23-year-old Army recruiter in the Missoula area, crashed into the front driver’s side corner of Singer’s vehicle, which was on the far right shoulder of the highway, said MHP Trooper Jeremy Lee.
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“At this point we think (Singer) saw the crash coming and drove to the right in order to avoid the crash. That’s why the crash happened on the shoulder,” Lee said.
The other driver was treated and released at St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula. Investigators said it was unknown if he was wearing his seatbelt, but Singer was.
Lee said it appeared the recruiter was going “highway speed.” Road conditions were wet from intermittent rain showers but weren’t slick, Lee said. It was 43 degrees with no snow or ice on the road.
It’s unknown whether alcohol or drugs were factors.
“That’s still under investigation as far as why he allowed the vehicle to drift over to the left,” Lee said. “We’ll know more when we get the blood results back.”
That process usually takes four to five weeks, he added.
The fatal crash was followed less than two hours later by another in Blaine County in north-central Montana south of Harlem.