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Investigators probe crash
Early Sunday morning accident killed one, injured six

by TIMOTHY MITCHELL-Ravalli Republic

CORVALLIS - Monday afternoon, the Montana Highway Patrol had concluded its reconstruction of the fatal accident when Ashley Irby and Shalae Davis showed up to leave flowers at the base of the tree for their fallen friend.

"I hope and pray it opens up one person's eyes. That's the only good thing that can come out of this," Irby said.

Killed in the early Sunday morning accident was Bo Lewis Storms, 24, of Conner.

Irby had been asked Saturday night to be the sixth passenger in the truck that crashed, killing Storms and seriously injuring three others. Investigators have not released the names of any of the injured nor have they said who was driving the truck.

"I said no. I've learned to take my own car," Irby said. "I was the only one who said no that night."

Irby and Davis graduated from Corvallis High School last year.

All three of the injured young men remain hospitalized in critical to serious conditions. In total, six people were hurt.

At the base of the tree was the poplar's bark that had been sheared off by the blunt force of the accident. Among the bark were bouquets of flowers left by friends and empty and full beer cans. Troopers believe alcohol and excessive speed were factors in the fatal crash.

"What they need to do is take the truck and park it at the Hamilton High School to show people what can happen," Irby said.

Davis said she was heart broken and sickened by what happened.

Irby had recently left the hospital in Missoula where she had been visiting the victims and was hopeful for everyone's recovery.

"It's amazing what prayer and surgery can do for someone," Irby said.

Accident investigator Scott Bennett was at the crash site. He said they would be able to determine exactly how fast the driver was going when he hit the tree once data from the accident site had been had been put into their reconstruction computer program.

"I can tell you they were going well in excess of the speed limit," he said.

The lead trooper on the crash, Lath Keith, said both vehicles were traveling westbound on Willow Creek Road around 12:30 Sunday morning.

Because of conflicting statements and the unavailability of the people in the hospital, the investigation is proceeding slowly.

"It is going to take some time on this accident," Keith said.

Six people were injured in the two vehicles that were involved in the accident. The car was a 1997 Hyundai Accent and the other vehicle was a late model, full size GMC crew cab truck.

Reporter Timothy Mitchell can be reached at 363-3300 or tmitchell@ravallirepublic.com