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Nov-02-2006 13:09printcomments

Semi-Truck Rollover First of Several Early Morning Crashes Leading to Closure of Highway 26

The first rollover seemed to initiate a chain reaction that led to a number of vehicles being wrecked.

Wrecked trucks
Crash scene brought Highway 26 to a complete standstill
Photos courtesy: Oregon State Police

(GOVERNMENT CAMP) - Approximately a dozen vehicles, including commercial trucks and passenger cars, were involved in several crashes early Thursday morning on a three-mile stretch of Highway 26 about seven miles east of Government Camp. An icy condition related to freezing rain was a contributing factor. Thursday morning at approximately 5:00 AM, the first of several crashes occurred on Highway 26 near milepost 65. The first crash involved an eastbound commercial truck towing a flatbed trailer loaded with roofing materials. The truck's driver lost control and rolled, losing the truck's load. The driver, 58-year old Lewis Propper of Woodland, Washington, was not injured. A few minutes after this crash, a westbound 1998 Ford Expedition was approaching the roofing debris, but the driver told police he was unable to see the rolled over trailer due to headlights shining from another truck. The Ford Expedition driven by 45-year old Clifford Kuther of Madras, was unable to stop and crashed into the overturned trailer. Kuther was not injured. OSP troopers say that during the next several minutes, more crashes began occurring involving vehicles losing control on the icy highway. One of these crashes involved a commercial truck transporting sheet rock that rolled over after its driver lost control. That driver was transported by a private party to Mt. Hood Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries. His name was not available. Investigators say ODOT crews were very busy with coordinating clean-up efforts and sections of Highway 26 were beginning to reopen about three hours after the initial crash. Due to no local Oregon State Police troopers on duty at the time, troopers from Portland and Government Camp were called to respond from their residences to investigate. No citations are expected to be issued. Police and other emergency responders say the cold conditions are here, and particularly in Central Oregon or in any higher elevations, black ice can form and remain undetected on the road surfaces. For drivers who have never had to contend with ice, remember that bridges always freeze first.

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.