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Mar-23-2009 11:59printcomments

Four Perish in Crash After SUV Flies From Embankment Near Oakridge (PHOTOS)

Police say the vehicle traveled across the westbound lane and off the north side of the highway where it became airborne as it rolled.

Fatal crash investigation
Photo of crash scene: Oregon State Police

(OAKRIDGE, Ore.) - Oregon State Police troopers and other agencies responded to a Monday morning quadruple fatal traffic crash on Highway 58 about five miles east of Oakridge.

Investigators say shortly before 6:00 a.m. a 2001 Chevrolet Geo Tracker sport utility vehicle driven by 59-year old Leroy Millard West of Springfield, was eastbound on a straight stretch of Highway 58 near milepost 41.

For an unknown reason, the Geo Tracker traveled across the westbound lane and off the north side of the highway where it became airborne as it rolled. The top of the vehicle crashed into a large cedar tree, crushing the passenger compartment.

Leroy West and the three passengers were all pronounced deceased at the scene.

The three passengers are identified as his wife, 62-year old Lanetta Kay West, who was seated in the left rear seat and right front passenger, 51-year old William Ray Freeman, and his wife, 43-year old Paula Di-Anne CLary Smith, both from Albany, who was seated in the right rear seat. Clary Smith is Lanetta West's daughter.

All victims were using safety restraints and they were reportedly on a trip to Reno, Nevada. Fire personnel extricated them from the vehicle.

Oregon State Police Senior Trooper Dustin Sprague and troopers from the Oakridge work site and Springfield Area Command office are continuing the investigation with the assistance of the Lane County Medical Examiner's office.

There were some icy spots in the general area but it is not known if these conditions played a factor in this crash.

ODOT assisted with traffic while travel was restricted to one lane until the scene was cleared at approximately 1:00 p.m.

OSP's Lt. Gregg Hastings in Portland says that at approximately 6:00 a.m., a commercial truck operator on Highway 58 near milepost 41 spotted a vehicle down an embankment into a tree on the north side of the highway.

Local emergency responders were notified and OSP troopers were called out from their homes to respond to the scene.


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