Three victims identified in tragic, fiery collision on Yakima Valley Highway

UPDATE on January 18, 2021: Yakima County investigators have offered new details in the fatal collision that claimed the lives of three people on Yakima Valley Highway last Friday.

According to the Yakima County Sherriff’s Office, 32-year-old Usbaldo Santillan was headed eastbound on Yakima Valley Highway at Dekker Road as 72-year-old Leonard Wallingford of Sunnyside drove westbound with his wife, Yolanda Martinez, and his friend, Carlos Soliman.

Santillan veered his 2014 Chevy pickup truck over the traffic line on the foggy road and crashed head-on with the victims’ 1996 Chevy pickup truck.

Wallingford and Martinez were pronounced dead at the scene. Shortly after, Soliman (64) passed away from his injuries at the nearest hospital.

Santillan escaped the tragic collision with minor injuries and was not intoxicated at the time of the accident.

The Yakima County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Unit is still investigating this crash. They determined that fog couldn’t be the leading cause of the accident since there were roughly two blocks of visibility at the time Santillan crossed over the median line.

The following breaking news story has been left unaltered from its original publishing.


YAKIMA, Wash. — A tragic head-on collision at the intersection of Yakima Valley Highway and Dekker Rd claimed the lives of two people this afternoon.

According to information from the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office, deputies were sent to the scene of the crash after witnesses called for emergency help.

One of those callers told authorities that a car was on fire before they used an extinguisher to sedate the flames. That way, the flames wouldn’t spread or threaten victims any further.

Deputies pulled up to the scene where two pickup trucks had collided head-on. By the time they arrived, one of the victims had already passed away.

Yakima Valley Highway

Image credit: YCSO, Facebook

RECENT: ATV driver passes away in Yakima County after falling from 20 feet, getting pinned in the snow

Authorities learned that there were three people in one truck and one person in another. Firefighters and medics arrived at the scene to use their ‘jaws of life,’ a tool used to pry victims trapped inside of crashed cars.

During the extraction process, another victim sadly passed away. Two more people were removed from the vehicle and transported to nearby hospitals for emergency medical attention.

EARLIER TODAY: Freezing fog leads to poor visibility and black ice for the Friday drive in Tri-Cities, Yakima

Yakima Valley Highway, which runs adjacent to I-82, is closed at the intersection with Dekker Rd indefinitely. Authorities are at the scene, investigating the crash and compiling information from victims, eyewitnesses, and evidence on-location.

This is a breaking news story. An update and/or follow-up may be issued if further details are publically revealed.

RECENT HEADLINES FROM THE KAPP KVEW NEWS STAFF:

READ: “It needs to be neighbors helping neighbors”: WSDOT refused Kittitas’ offer to clear snow over vax rules