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Apr-22-2008 09:51printcomments

Idaho Man Dies in Unusual Traffic Crash Near Hermiston

Police say the victim, a 72-year old male, suddenly awoke and grabbed the steering wheel, causing the truck to crash.

Photo: Oregon State Police

(HERMISTON, Ore.) - A Kellogg, Idaho man riding as a passenger in a pickup died Monday afternoon in an unusual crash in which investigators believe he played a contributing role in the pickup losing control on Interstate 84 about four miles west of the Interstate 82 interchange.

Oregon State Police Sergeant Allan Muhs says it happened Monday at approximately 3:00 PM, as the 2000 Ford Ranger pickup driven by 45-year old Janie Lowrain Mechaud of Kellogg, Idaho was eastbound on Interstate 84 near milepost 175. Mechaud's uncle, 72-year old Walter Alonzo Ross, was in the vehicle as a passenger.

With the pickup in the left eastbound lane, Rpss reportedly was sleeping when he suddenly awoke and yelled the driver's name then grabbed the steering wheel causing the pickup to veer to the left onto the gravel median shoulder.

With his hands still on the steering wheel, he steered hard to the right causing the pickup to rotate as it moved back across both eastbound lanes. The pickup drove off the right shoulder, rolled over a fence and came to rest on its top.

Mr. Ross was pronounced deceased at the scene. He was using safety restraints.

Michaud was using safety restraints and received minor injuries. She was transported by Boardman Fire and Rescue to Good Shepherd Medical Center for treatment.

OSP troopers from the Hermiston and Pendleton offices responded to investigate. Morrow County Sheriff's Office, Morrow County Road Department, and ODOT also assisted at the scene.

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