Three dead in car crash in Medford

Three people were killed early Saturday morning when their car sped off West Main Street and careened through a ditch, striking four small wooden driveway bridges, the Jackson County Sheriff's Department reported.

Gina Louise Daniels, 26, and Brian Daniel Santangelo, 29, both of the 2200 block of Table Rock Road, Medford, and Brian Kevin Venegas, 30, of the 1400 block of Clearsprings Drive, Medford, all were declared dead at the scene of the crash, officials said.

The accident, on West Main just east of Arnold Lane, was reported at 1:18 a.m. Sheriff's deputies, Medford police and the Medford fire department responded and found that two people had been tossed from the vehicle, while the third remained inside.

The three were traveling in Daniels' black 1999 Honda Accord.

Investigators said the car was speeding west on West Main when it left the roadway for an unknown reason. It apparently struck a wooden bridge providing driveway access over a roadside ditch, then flipped and tumbled over the next three driveway bridges.

Two bridges were badly damaged and posted with "bridge closed" signs. Residents said the bridge platforms will have to be replaced before they can access West Main Street. Those lots have access to Arnold Lane, though.

Because of the violence of the high-speed crash, investigators haven't determined who was driving, initial police reports said.

An interagency crash reconstruction team was called to the scene. The investigation, which likely will include toxicology examinations, is ongoing.

The crash severed a natural gas line, so Avista Utilities was called to turn off the gas safely, officials said. Neighbors said they were told to go inside their houses and not smoke until the utility crews arrived.

Gina Daniels' father, Billy Daniels, said officers came to his home early Saturday morning to notify him and his wife, Tara, of the fatal crash.

"It's a horrible thing," he said.

Today would have been his daughter's 27th birthday.

"We are going to miss her forever," Daniels said.

He described his daughter as an independent young woman who worked hard to make a life for her 10-year-old son. She had been with Santangelo, who called her his wife, for eight or nine years, Daniels said.

He described Santangelo as another dedicated worker. "He took care of them real good," he said.

Daniels said Santangelo was a manager at Albertsons and had told a co-worker that he and Gina planned a "date night" Friday and he got to pick the video they would watch.

Daniels said Venegas was Santangelo's best friend.

Medford resident Michelle Ireland, who said she had dated Venegas about five years ago, visited the crash site after seeing a news report on the accident.

She said they had broken up over disagreements about lifestyle choices, but she had heard Venegas was doing well and had a young daughter. She was also acquainted with Santangelo and Daniels.

"They were all good people," she said. "My heart goes out to their families and friends."

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4485, or e-mail

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