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Critical Injury Traffic Crash in Highway Work Zone Ends Search for Reckless DriverSalem-News.com
Police say motorists had called the driver in shortly before he plowed through the cones and into a contractor's truck
(SANTIAM PASS) - Construction workers narrowly escaped injury Monday afternoon when a driver who police suspect was under the influence of alcohol, entered a Santiam Pass-area highway work zone on Highway 20 near Lost Lake and was involved in a crash with another vehicle.
Oregon State Police troopers responded at 3:30 PM Monday to the two-vehicle crash on Highway 20 near milepost 76. Prior to this reported crash, the OSP dispatch center was receiving information of a possible impaired driver that was eastbound from the Santiam Junction.
Troopers arriving on scene determined that the driver who caused the crash was the same one that had just been called in as a reckless driver.
They say their preliminary investigation indicates that 58-year old Dennis Powers of Eugene, was eastbound on Highway 20 in a blue Nissan Sentra when he proceeded through a posted construction zone where flaggers were present.
They say Powers drove over several traffic cones before slamming into the side of a construction truck operated by 35-year old Maldonade Mendoza of Portland.
The truck was slowly traveling west in the coned off section of the highway when it was struck on the right rear by the left front of Power's vehicle. After impact, the Nissan Sentra spun off the highway into the south side ditch.
Powers was transported by Air Life to Saint Charles Hospital where he was listed in critical condition. Police say Mendoza was not injured.
At the time of the crash there were roadway flaggers, proper signs and cones in place with traffic being allowed to proceed in one direction at a time, says OSP.
Crash scene on Highway-20
One highway worker flagging traffic in the work zone came very close to being struck by the Nissan.
The contractor, Apply A Line Inc., was replacing highway lines using a new process that will keep the lines from fading out each year.
Investigating troopers found no indication that Powers was wearing safety restraints, and alcohol is a possible contributing factor.
Following completion of the investigation, possible criminal charges may be pending.
Oregon State Police troopers from the Bend Area Command office are continuing the investigation. ODOT and local emergency responders assisted.
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