ACCIDENT CLAIMS 2-YEAR-OLD

June 17, 2001 11:00 pm
ACCIDENT SCENE: Deputy Jim Voelz takes pictures at the scene of Saturday's accident on Highway 82. (The Observer/PHIL BULLOCK).
ACCIDENT SCENE: Deputy Jim Voelz takes pictures at the scene of Saturday's accident on Highway 82. (The Observer/PHIL BULLOCK).

By T.L. Petersen

Observer Staff Writer

IMBLER The promise of a beautiful June day ended in tragedy just after 10 a.m. Saturday for the Jeremy and Melissa Lillegard family of La Grande.

Their 2-year-old son, Jerimiah Todd, was struck and fatally injured as he was crossing Highway 82 in Imbler.

According to several Imbler volleyball players who were having a yard sale on the west side of the highway, Melissa Lillegard had parked her vehicle on the east side of the highway and crossed to the sale with her oldest daughter.

Moments later, Jerimiah Todd left the car and tried to follow.

As the child crossed the highway he was struck by a hay rake being pulled by a pickup.

According to a report from the Union County Sheriffs Office, the child sustained severe head injuries. He was transported within minutes to Grande Ronde Hospital, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

Sheriffs deputies and Oregon State Police investigated the accident and determined that the driver of the pickup wasnt at fault. No citations will be issued.

Jerimiah Todds 5-year-old sister was the first to reach his side, and her actions were what apparently alerted Melissa Lillegard of what had happened.

It really affected all the kids, said Brenda Parsons, whose daughter, Kaylene, was one of the volleyball players who witnessed the accident. When this happened, it just sent my daughter into shock. All the girls are pretty torn up.

Imbler school officials have set up a time for the teens who witnessed the accident to get together and talk about what happened, hoping to provide a time and place for the teen-agers to work through some of their emotions. They will meet at 6 tonight in the Imbler elementary gymnasium.

Funeral arrangements for Jerimiah Todd Lillegard are being handled by Daniels Chapel of the Valley. Services havent yet been announced.