COLUMBIA FALLS – A Montana Highway Patrol trooper died in the line of duty in a head-on collision on U.S. Highway 2 near Columbia Falls, authorities said Wednesday.
A second man also died in the Tuesday night crash, and a woman was gravely injured, said Lynn Solomon, a spokeswoman for the Montana Department of Justice in Helena.
Trooper Evan Schneider of Kalispell died at the scene of the crash, Solomon said. The names of the people in the other vehicle were being withheld until family members could be notified and the crash is under investigation, she said.
Schneider, 29, was traveling west on Highway 2 between Columbia Falls and Hungry Horse at about 7:15 p.m. Tuesday when he turned around to go east, passed two vehicles and, with his emergency flashing lights on, was attempting to pull over a vehicle. Another vehicle traveling west crossed the center line and struck the trooper’s car head-on, Solomon said.
“Although the work we do takes us to every corner of the state, the Patrol is a small, close-knit organization,” said Col. Paul Grimstad, the Highway Patrol commander. “We lost a colleague and a good man.”
Schneider joined the MHP in January 2004. He is survived by his wife Carrie. His brother, James, is also a trooper stationed in the Kalispell district.
The death marks the sixth time a trooper has died in the line of duty in the Highway Patrol’s 73-year history. Less than a year ago, on Oct. 9, 2007, trooper David Graham died in a crash about two miles north of Kalispell when a vehicle crossed a turn lane and hit his unmarked cruiser head-on.
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