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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow ACCIDENT CLAIMS ELGIN WOMAN

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ACCIDENT CLAIMS ELGIN WOMAN

FATAL ACCIDENT: Firefighters extinguish the fire that erupted when a pickup and log truck collided at Highway 82 and Sandridge Road Tuesday morning. Highway 82 was extremely icy Tuesday morning. The accident resulted in the highway being closed for 5 1/2 hours. (The Observer/PHIL BULLOCK).
FATAL ACCIDENT: Firefighters extinguish the fire that erupted when a pickup and log truck collided at Highway 82 and Sandridge Road Tuesday morning. Highway 82 was extremely icy Tuesday morning. The accident resulted in the highway being closed for 5 1/2 hours. (The Observer/PHIL BULLOCK).

By T.L. Petersen

Observer Staff Writer

A Baker City log truck driver is being called a hero after getting two women out of a vehicle that was crushed against his truck along Highway 82 Tuesday morning.

The accident, thought to have been caused by icy roads at approximately 8:20 a.m., resulted in the death at the scene of Elvera E. Trump, 77, of Elgin.

Trumps granddaughter, Amy Marie Daggett, 20, of Elgin was in critical condition in intensive care at St. Alphonsus Hospital in Boise this morning. A fire erupted after the accident.

The two were southbound in a 2001 Ford pickup truck driven by Daggett.

James W. Jensen, 37, of Baker City was driving a loaded 1995 Kenworth log truck for Jim Michel Trucking heading north toward Elgin about six miles from La Grande when the accident occurred, according to Oregon State Police Lt. Reg Madsen.

If there was an actual hero, it was the truck driver, said Union County Undersheriff Dana Wright, the first law enforcement officer at the scene.

Witnesses told the state police that Jensen, who wasnt injured in the crash, was seen pulling both Daggett and Trump from their vehicle immediately after the collision.

Jensen told police that he had been wearing a seat belt, but officers did not know whether Trump and Daggett were doing the same, since damage from the accident and the fire made determinations difficult.

The timing of Jensens actions, witnesses said, was critical as both vehicles began burning and were quickly engulfed in flames.

The flames spread to an old grain storage shed on the corner of Highway 82 and Sandridge Road. The vehicles had ended up resting against the building.

You could see the flames from a couple of miles away, said Union County Deputy Sheriff Jim Voelz, who was also on the scene with the La Grande Rural Fire Department in Island City, the first fire crew called to the accident at 8:21 a.m.

While the storage shed was scorched by the fire, Voelz said that most of the structural damage to it was caused by the tumbling logs from the log truck.

Sherry Nantz of Imbler, who calculates she was driving less than a minute behind Daggetts pickup, said that when she stopped to see if she could help, it was like a skating arena trying to get across the road.

Those icy conditions mean that it may never be possible to determine how fast the vehicles involved were traveling, said Madsen, since slippery roads are like Crisco and eliminate the signs normally used to determine speeds.

An OSP accident reconstructionist is working to determine how the mishap occurred, Madsen said. It normally takes seven to 10 working days for all the information to be compiled into a report following an accident, he added.

Madsen reported that a third vehicle, a 1993 Dodge Ramcharger driven by Sheri E. Hardenbrock, 34, of La Grande was also struck during the accident, but didnt sustain much damage. Hardenbrock was not injured.

The highway was busy at the time of the accident, Wright said. As he drove toward the scene, traffic continued to move toward La Grande until it was diverted off the main highway by officers.

After arriving at the scene, Island City firefighters called for mutual aid from fire departments in La Grande, Imbler and Cove. Both firefighters and tanker trucks were requested. Imblers Quick Response Team also responded.

While the collision did not block the highway, officers closed Highway 82 for about 5 1/2 hours to deal with the accident, accident reconstruction and road clean-up. In addition to the OSP and deputies from the sheriffs office, Oregon Department of Transportation and Union County Road Department workers were involved in traffic control and cleaning the roadway of debris.

Because of Trumps death, Union County District Attorney Russ West and the county medical examiner were also called to the scene.

Amy Daggett is a graduate of Elgin High School and a student at Oregon State University.

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