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May-30-2017 00:36printcomments

Driver Arrested for Crashing into Motorcycles Killing Two and Injuring Many Others

Bikers were traveling to Fossil for annual Campout

Fossil biker crash
The scene of the crash was shocking to responders.
Photo: Wheeler County Sheriff's Office

(FOSSIL, Ore.) - What started out as what would be the perfect 3-day weekend at an Oregon campground complete with cool bikes, great grub and unparalleled camaraderie was changed forever in a split second.

For several people riding toward the campout, a deadly nightmare ensued.

It was fairly late Saturday night, about 10:35, when the worst happened to a group of motorcycle riders on their way to the 40th Fossil Campout, an annual event hosted by A.B.A.T.E., a well-known motorcycle rights group.

The bikers were just east of Fossil on Highway 19, closing in on their destination of Bear Hollow Park where friends and family waited their arrival.

Many of those in the group were members of the Gypsy Joker Motorcycle Club. The Memorial Day weekend event at Fossil is something they, and other bike clubs, look forward to all year long.

At about milepost 61, a car travelling westbound crossed into the oncoming lane, striking the large pack of bikes.

According to sources, the car was speeding and crashed into the bikes while doing a 180-degree turn. The group of bikes was reportedly going about 25 mph.

Two men died on scene. Several other riders suffered numerous serious and traumatic injuries.

Medical responders came with ambulances from Spray, Fossil, Condon, and Arlington. Five different emergency Air transports occurred from both the scene of the crash and from the Asher Community Health Clinic.

As Wheeler County is a frontier rural county, the nearest trauma level medical care is about 90 miles away.

“I’ve seen a lot of wrecks in a lot of years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Rick Shaffer, Wheeler County Fire Services Coordinator.

Crash @ MP61

A local crane had to be called in to assist in clearing the wreckage and get the highway back open, after nearly a nine-hour closure.

The driver of the motor vehicle, 50-year old Lisa Ann Niehaus, of Condon, was arrested and booked in jail on multiple charges including two counts of Criminally Negligent Homicide, three Counts of Assault in the Third Degree, and several misdemeanors.

A number of the victims remain in critical care at regional area hospitals. We have been told that two men have lost a leg, and at least four are suffering from serious injuries including broken bones and severed arteries.

Names of those lost and injured are not being released yet, though next of kin has been notified. The criminal investigation is underway and more will be revealed in the coming days.

This is a bewildering, tragic end to the month of May, “Motorcycle Awareness Month”. offers our sympathy to all the victims of this terrible event.

Source: Wheeler County Sheriff's Office news release; Other sources.


Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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Lori R May 31, 2017 10:14 am (Pacific time)

Please keep in mind that the driver has not been cited for DUII

Tracy Smiley May 31, 2017 1:29 am (Pacific time)

One of the injured in this tradgety is my cousin,at present he is recovering but very easly could have lost his life at the hands of this dispicable person,isn't it a shame that we don't have stronger penalties for drunk drivers(not convicted yet,)isn't it time that we implement harsher sentences for all who choose(as it is a choice) to drink and drive?it is public knowledge in this present day that people die or are tragicly disabled when people choose to drink and get behind the wheel of an automobile,there are signes in bars,warning lables on bottle and media ads galore so no excuses should be exceptable when court procedings begine,if you test over the exceptable limits an have caused death or injury then you should go iimediatly to jail for the maximum that the courts are allowed to impose,and lose your license for life,period no exceptions,to give a convicted drunk driver back their license and alliw them the oppertunity to get behind the wheel is in my opinion basicly giving our judicial system the bird,and is comparable to loading a gun and placing in the hands of a phycopath,it is a stain on the fabric of the American people for putting up with the laxadical way we prosecute our drunk drivers,these are not j-walkers they are killers behind the wheel and should no longer be allowed to get behind the wheel and devistaste families the way they have been allowed to in the past,we have the power to stop this senseless tradgrty from becoming yet another unsuspecting victims reality as it did for my family this past Saturday,I ask every person reading this to ask yourselves"Why,why do we allow this senseless crime to be repeated every minute of every day in our country,?"simply because an individual chooses to thumb their nose at the law and get behind the wheel while intoxicated,if I could have said one thing to that woman,Lisa ,before she got behind the wheel and changed my cusins life forever and killed two innocent peope,I would have said "be cearful the loved one you mame or kill may be your own or mine"that it would have made a difference, I will never know but I do know that this cannot be allowed to go on any longer,thank you for your time Sincerely Tracy Smiley

Anonymous May 30, 2017 1:45 pm (Pacific time)

she was in court today does anyone have a list of the charges

Kelly Hause May 30, 2017 12:08 pm (Pacific time)

Thank you Bonnie for this informative, accurate report. Your professional journalism and your publication are always for the people, and without prejudice. I have been confused and bewildered by the obvious silence of most of our local news stations. One has to wonder why such a horrific event that caused fatalities and terrible injuries to so many on their way to a popular regional event, why those people were not important. Those riders were not just members of a motorcycle club. They were Grandfathers, Fathers with babies at home, Brothers, Uncles, and many Veterans that have honorably served our Country. The many, many first responders that came from all around deserved mention too, their efforts are to be commended. They worked tirelessly in saving many lives for many hours amid all the carnage and chaos. The pictures in their minds probably haunts them still. Finally, the only crimes here were the ones committed by the criminal behind the wheel of that car. She could be the poster child for all to see why a person should not drive under the influence, especially on Memorial Day holiday at an event that attracts 100's of motorcycles for miles around.

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