Linn County Sheriff Bruce Riley reports today at 3:00 p.m., deputies investigated a fatal, single vehicle crash. The crash occurred on Gates School Road near the intersection of Kingwood Road, approximately one mile east of Mill City.


The driver of the 1986 Isuzu Trooper was identified as Elarae Jennifer Vargas, 44, of Mill City. Vargas was pronounced dead at the scene. The passenger, who was riding in the front passenger seat, was identified as Kenneth Owen Bell, 26, of Mill City. Bell was transported to Santiam Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

The investigation reveals Vargas was traveling south on Gates School Road towards Mill City. Vargas was negotiating a sharp left hand corner and drove straight through the corner, onto the shoulder. The front of the Isuzu Trooper dropped into the ditch causing the vehicle to spin as it slid on all four wheels. The vehicle continued through the ditch and struck a tree on the driver’s side. The car then rolled onto its side coming to rest on the driver’s side.

Neither Vargas or Bell were wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash and the vehicle did not have air bags. It is not believed that alcohol was a factor in the crash.

Linn County Deputies were assisted by members of the Lyons Fire Department, Gates Fire Department, Linn County Multi-Agency Investigation Team and the Linn County Deputy Medical Examiner. AAsum-Dufour Funeral Home removed the body from the scene.

After being released from the hospital, Bell was arrested and taken to the Linn County Jail on an outstanding warrant for Possession of Methamphetamine.

The investigation is continuing.