A head-on collision on Highway 12 Wednesday sent two Santa Rosa men to the hospital, one with life-threatening injuries.

Thomas King, 70, was headed eastbound in a 2001 Hyundai near Glen Ellen at approximately 2:40 p.m. when he sped up to pass the vehicle ahead of him, CHP Officer Kimberly Lemons said.

He failed to complete the maneuver and slammed into a oncoming Ford pickup driven by Kenneth Prior, 82.

The crash sent Prior's truck rolling off the road, where it came to rest on its driver's side. The crumpled Hyundai remained on the road.

The men were extricated by rescuers from the Glen Ellen and Kenwood fire protection districts. Their lives were almost certainly saved by the combination of air bags and seat belts, Lemons said.

"If there wasn't an air bag I could almost guarantee there would have been a fatality," she said.

King suffered life-threatening injuries, though Prior's wounds were minor, she said. Both men were taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital

Lemons encouraged witnesses to call CHP detectives at 588-1400.

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