Man killed in head-on collision on I-5 near Phoenix

A man died Friday afternoon when his Toyota Corolla slammed head-on into a Rogue Valley Transportation District bus on Interstate 5 at the Phoenix interchange, closing the southbound lanes for about three hours.

Oregon State Police had not yet released the name of the driver of the Toyota, who was pronounced dead at the scene. There were no other people in the car, police said, and the driver was wearing a seat belt.

The driver of the 13-passenger RVTD bus and a single passenger aboard sustained minor injuries, OSP said.

Police said the 2004 Corolla was heading northbound on I-5 at about 12:38 p.m. when it crossed over the median and into oncoming traffic.

"For some unknown reason it came over through the median and hit the southbound RVTD bus. Not sure why," said Capt. Randie Martz, OSP southwest regional commander. "It's under investigation."

The Corolla was torn apart, scattering pieces across the highway. Witnesses said the engine was ejected from the car and landed on the pavement.

The bus, an E-350 Ford Cutaway lift van, experienced significant front-end damage. The bus was leased to Paratransit Services Inc. of Medford. Driver Michael Murray, 61, of Gold Hill, and passenger Craig Pritzlaff, 49, of Medford, were transported to Rogue Valley Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries. Pritzlaff was in a motorized wheelchair that was secured and Murray was wearing a seat belt, police said.

Oregon Department of Transportation officials redirected southbound traffic at the south Medford interchange to Highway 99 and back onto the freeway at the Phoenix interchange. The lanes reopened at 3:30 p.m.

OSP troopers from the Central Point Area Command office are continuing the investigation, according to a release. The Jackson County Sheriff's Department, Phoenix Police Department and Jackson County Fire District No. 5 assisted.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at

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