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Deadly week on Flathead Valley roads

by Whitefish Pilot
| July 12, 2023 1:00 AM

Over the last week, there were three fatal crashes on Flathead Valley roadways.

On July 3, Kalispell resident Destiny Marie Wright, 21, of Kalispell and her 4-year-old daughter were traveling south on U.S. 2 south of Columbia Falls when her Toyota Tacoma was struck head-on by an older model Chevrolet pickup, according to the Sheriff’s Office press release.

Wright died at the scene. She was wearing her seatbelt and her daughter was restrained in a car seat. The child was transported to Logan Health Medical Center with serious injuries.

The Chevrolet pickup was occupied by three individuals and was reported to be traveling northbound when it was seen crossing all lanes of traffic and collided head-on with Wright’s vehicle, the release stated.

Kyan Lee Bowman-Wheeler, 19, from Hungry Horse, died at the scene. Bowman-Wheeler was the unrestrained rear passenger of the pickup.

The driver was a 15-year-old boy from Coram, according to the Montana Highway Patrol report. An 18-year-old woman from Whitefish was the front passenger.

Both were seriously injured and transported to Logan Health.

Alcohol, drugs and speed were suspected factors in the crash, according to the Montana Highway Patrol report.

Highway Patrol, Columbia Falls Fire, Three Rivers EMS, Whitefish Fire/Ambulance, Evergreen Fire/Ambulance, Glacier Park International Airport Fire and the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office all responded to the crash. The wreck remains under investigation.

Then on July 6, a Columbia Falls man died in a fiery crash on Montana 40 near Whitefish.

According to Montana Highway Patrol, the 36-year-old was driving a Subaru Outback westbound on the highway at about 8:45 a.m. when the vehicle crossed the center turn lane.

He was later identified as Zachary H. Giffin.

An oncoming vehicle pulling a trailer swerved in an attempt to avoid a collision, but the Subaru struck the vehicle’s front left side, went off the roadway and burst into flames.

Giffin died at the scene.

The other driver, a 49-year-old from Columbia Falls, had minor injuries.

On July 2, 18-year-old Bigfork resident Devin Victor was killed in a motorcycle wreck on Montana 35.

According to Montana Highway Patrol, the teen was riding a Yamaha FZ09 motorcycle when it came up on a Lexus RX heading in the same direction at a high rate of speed at about 8:53 p.m. Victor was thrown from the bike after it clipped the Lexus at mile marker 30, near Village Lane in Bigfork.

The 18-year-old later succumbed to his injuries at Logan Health.

The two occupants of the Lexus, an 87-year-old man and 78-year-old woman, both from Kalispell and both wearing seatbelts, were uninjured in the collision.

Montana Highway Patrol is investigating the accidents.

A GoFundMe page has been set up for 4-year-old Nilah Wright, who is battling her injuries suffered in the crash.

The address is: https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-for-destiny-and-nilah