One man died and another injured Saturday morning in a hit-and-run incident on Highway 20/34 in Philomath.

A little more than four hours after the driver of a white Ford 250 pickup fled the scene, police found the vehicle and the driver in Blodgett. The Benton County Sheriff's Office, which is the lead agency handling the case, said it was investigating Ricky Ray Ferguson, 53, of Toledo, for his involvement.

Philomath Sgt. Dave Gurski said information received from the public pointed the investigation to Fern Road, over to Highway 20 near Priest Road, and then to Blodgett Country Store.

The incident occurred just before 10:30 a.m. on the highway just west of Newton Street and almost directly across from Landmark Drive. The pickup, heading east, struck two trash-collecting church volunteers on the south side of the highway.

Police said the first victim, a 70-year-old Corvallis man, was killed instantly. The second victim, an 85-year-old Corvallis man, was transported to Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Corvallis where he was reportedly to undergo surgery. Police said late Saturday afternoon that he was in the hospital's intensive care unit.

Philomath Chief of Police Ken Rueben said a witness to the incident reported that the motorist "swerved over the fog line" and hit the volunteers. A nearby resident, who was walking his dog, didn't see the collision but said he heard a "thunk" and then saw an eyewitness running toward the scene.

A third volunteer was picking up trash in the same vicinity, Gurski said, but was positioned further east and was not injured. Several other volunteers from a church were along the roadside picking up garbage in reflective vests Saturday morning.

Highway 20 from 53rd Street to 19th Street was closed for a little more than six hours to all traffic except tractor-trailer trucks to allow for an investigation. Trucks were allowed through because they have no convenient alternative route.

Gurski said the Benton County Multi-Agency Traffic Collision Investigation Team, which includes two officers from Philomath, was called in to assist. Along with BCSO and Philomath Police, others assisting were the Corvallis Police Department, Albany Police Department, Oregon State Police and the Oregon Department of Transportation.


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