Sunnyside man killed in crash

Second fatality in three days

— A Sunnyside man is dead following a single-car crash yesterday.

Francisco J. Atanacio, 32, was killed just after noon on Alderdale Road, near the intersection of Raschko Road, the Washington State Patrol said. He failed to negotiate a right turn.

The 1991 Honda Accord Atanacio was driving hit a dirt embankment, flipped and came to rest on its wheels, the patrol said.

“He was a Jehovah’s Witness, a nice guy,” his uncle, Rosalio Atanacio said Monday. “He was pretty basic in his beliefs and Bible teachings… never drank or used drugs.”

There were not any passengers in the vehicle.

Atanacio was not wearing a seatbelt, and it’s unknown if alcohol or drugs were involved, the patrol said.

He was the second Lower Valley man to die on a rural roadway in less than 72 hours.

On Thursday night, Santiago Mendoza Zenon, 38, of Prosser, died after he flipped his vehicle and crashed at Gap and McCreadie roads near Prosser.

Deputies were dispatched to the site just after 11 that night when another motorist reported the crash, Benton County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Clay Vannoy said

Excessive speed likely caused the single-car crash, he said, adding Zenon was alone in the vehicle.

“Both collisions are still under investigation and the initial reports are both vehicles failed to negotiate a corner,” patrol Lt. Kiley Conaway said this morning. “Troopers are still waiting for reports to come in before the case files will be finalized.”

Zenon was the third person to die in a Prosser-area crash in as many weeks.

On April 2, a Kennewick woman died in a single-car crash on state Highway 221, about a mile south of town.

Adilene Montano, 24, was pronounced dead at the scene at about 9:50 a.m., near Milepost 24, the patrol said.

Montano was northbound in a 2005 Jeep Cherokee when she lost control of the vehicle, crossed the centerline and overturned on an embankment, the patrol said.

Troopers cited speed as the cause of the crash, but did not say if drugs or alcohol were contributing factors.

The driver was wearing a seatbelt, the patrol reported, adding she was alone in the vehicle.

Prior to that, third-generation Sunnyside resident James Wilcox, 68, died March 20 in a crash near Prosser.

He was not wearing a seatbelt, the patrol said. He was a passenger in the 2001 Ford pickup driven by Kim Cornwell of Outlook, when the vehicle careened off westbound Interstate 82 and flipped near Milepost 84.

Cornwell and another passenger, Ashley Null, 28, of Tacoma, were taken to Kadlec Medical Center in Richland, the patrol said.

The cause of that crash remains under investigation.


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