It was a deadly Labor Day weekend in western Montana with two fatal crashes under investigation by the Montana Highway Patrol.

On August 28, the Montana Highway Patrol investigated a one vehicle fatal accident in Mineral County, and then on Monday, September 3 there was a two vehicle head-on collision south of Hamilton with one fatality and three injuries.

Captain Jim Kitchin said the Special enforcement Traffic Team was busy throughout the area for the last week.

“We also opened up strategic traffic enforcement overtime, so all the troopers in the area were busy,” said Kitchin. “Altogether we conducted 350 traffic stops. 19 were DUI’s from the 28th through the third, and then we issued almost 100 seat belt citations, as well.”

Kitchin said the Labor Day weekend is always the busiest time on the state’s highways with families taking their last break before school and with college students headed to campus.

“We call it the end of our 100 days of deadly summer driving,” he said. “We want everybody to quit drinking and driving and start wearing those seat belts. If you look at the weekly report it looks like about 53 percent of the traffic fatalities are alcohol related. We’ve had 117 traffic fatalities this year so far, but that’s better than last year when we had 130. If you look at the number of people that are injured because of alcohol, 35 percent are from drunk drivers, and then 53 percent are from not wearing seat belts.”

Kitchin said initial findings reveal that both fatalities over the holiday weekend may have been related to impaired driving.

“It’s suspected that drugs may have been involved in the crash in Mineral County, and possible alcohol use on the one down in Ravalli County,” he said.

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