On Sunday September 25, 2022 at 5:17 pm a two car motor vehicle collision occurred on
Hwy 70 near Old Hwy 10. Preliminary investigation shows that a 2005 Ford (driven by
John Russell (53, of Marion) travelling East on Hwy 70, crossed the center line and
struck a 2018 Chevrolet SUV, (driven by Juana Guardian 31, Marion) travelling West on
Hwy 70. As a result of this collision, Russell (the sole occupant of the 2005 Ford) and a
10 year old juvenile (a backseat passenger of the 2018 Chevrolet) were fatally injured.
Baltazar Ortiz and a 4 year old juvenile, who were passengers in the 2018 Chevrolet,
remain in critical condition at Mission Hospital. The remaining three juveniles from 2018
Chevrolet were transported and treated at Mission Hospital in Asheville, with non-life
Investigating Officers with the Marion Police Department are trying to determine why
Russell’s vehicle crossed the center line. Witnesses on the scene reported they observed
Russell’s vehicle crossing the double yellow line on at least three occasions prior to the
collision. Toxicology testing is being conducted on Russell, to determine if any
impairment was a contributing factor in this collision.
Highway 70 East was closed for approximately three hours and reopened at 8:30 pm.
As the investigation continues further information will be released.
The Marion Police Department would again like to thank the multiple agencies that
assisted in this incident.
This is a tragic incident that has affected both families, and our thoughts and prayers are
with all involved.
Authority: Chief Allen Lawrence