Great Falls

Jun 29, 2012 10:16 PM by Jen Hollenbach (jen@krtv.com)

Hiltbrunner identified as victim in fatal Great Falls collision

The man who died after crashing his Jeep into a parked truck in Great Falls on Wednesday has been identified as Bryan J. Hiltbrunner of Great Falls.

The victim's name was released on Friday evening by Cascade County Deputy Sheriff/Coroner Andy LeBrun.

Hiltbrunner, 33 years old, was speeding down 3rd Avenue North late Thursday night when he crashed head-on into a parked truck; the Jeep flipped, and neither he nor his female passenger were wearing seat belts.

Police say the 25 year old woman was intoxicated; as of Thursday, she was in the ICU at Benefis hospital with undisclosed injuries. She lived with Hiltbrunner.

Hiltbrunner was partially ejected and pinned beneath the Jeep; police have not disclosed whether or not he was intoxicated as well.

The owner of the truck that was hit is Brian Kapphan, who said that he initially thought he heard an explosion of some sort: "It was scary. It was different, I'd never seen anything like that before in my life. Something I'll never forget."

Kappan's truck was sent sailing when it was hit by the car; he said, "It's totalled out. They pushed it 59 feet."

Across the street, Cameron Johnson was stunned at what she saw; he said, "We didn't know which vehicle to go to. The Jeep was over there and the truck was in the middle of the road. It was hard to tell which one was actually involved in the accident and which one had people in it."

Johnson says he heard a woman "whimper" from the Jeep, and he worked with another neighbor to get her out of the wrecked car.

Johnson said, "They haven't said that anyone was drinking and driving, so it's probably unfair to speculate. But I don't see any other reason why you'd be driving that fast that late at night in a residential area."

He says the Jeep was driving between 60 and 80 miles per hour down the road and appears to have simply veered and crashed into the parked truck.

Kapphan observed, "No skid marks, no brake marks. No nothing."

Johnson noted, "I personally think if they were wearing their seatbelt they both would have survived."

Montana Highway Patrol is using their relatively new "total station" technology to reconstruct the accident to try to determine exactly what happened and how fast the driver was going.

The crash is still being investigated by the Great Falls Police Department and the Montana Highway Patrol.

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