Three children and a 59-year-old woman were killed Saturday evening in a violent head-on crash on U.S. Highway 2 near Libby.
The Montana Highway Patrol said a 17-year-old boy driving east in a 2003 Hyundai Santa Fe apparently fell asleep at the wheel, woke up after his vehicle left the road, then overcorrected. The vehicle flipped as it entered the westbound lane.
Headed the other way was a 1996 Ford Aerostar driven by 59-year-old Ramona Bauer.
Bauer, a 13-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl were all wearing their seatbelts, but the Santa Fe was airborne and "basically landed on the hood, and into the front windshield and roof, crushing them to death," said MHP trooper Bryce Ford, who investigated the crash.
All three were from Columbia Falls.
The 17-year-old, who was from Libby, was not wearing his seatbelt and was ejected from the car.
All four were pronounced dead at the scene. The children's names were not released on Sunday.
Neither alcohol nor speed were factors in the crash, which occurred at mile marker 72 around 6 p.m. The highway was dry, said Ford.