Minor crash escalates, leaving 2 injured, westbound lanes closed

Written by Kelly Ducote, The Observer November 06, 2013 10:07 am

An overturned semi-truck blocks one lane of westbound traffic on Interstate 84 near milepost 254 Wednesday morning. Men worked to pick up the contents of the truck before contractors arrived to clean up a diesel spill caused by the crash. (KELLY DUCOTE/The Observer)
An overturned semi-truck blocks one lane of westbound traffic on Interstate 84 near milepost 254 Wednesday morning. Men worked to pick up the contents of the truck before contractors arrived to clean up a diesel spill caused by the crash. (KELLY DUCOTE/The Observer)

Two people were injured in an accident on Interstate 84 early Wednesday morning that ended up closing the freeway.

What started out as a relatively minor accident resulted in multiple hours of lane closure west of La Grande near milepost 254 east of the Hilgard exit.

La Grande Rural Fire Chief Larry Wooldridge, whose department responded to the scene, said a van traveling west on the interstate wrecked after going over the bridge at the Grande Ronde River early this morning. Wooldridge said the bridge was solid ice at the time of the wreck, which occurred around 2 a.m.

Occupants in the van had already called for assistance and a tow truck when a semi-truck coming through the crash site hit the wrecked van.

“The truck came through and somehow turned over,” Wooldridge said.

Oregon State Police Sgt. Kyle Hove said the truck spun out and ended up on its side.

One of the van passengers was transported by ambulance to the hospital. Another passenger rode with the victim. Their injuries were not life threatening, Hove said. The commercial truck’s two occupants were not injured in the accident.

It is unclear whether the victims were injured during the original crash or when the semi-truck overturned.

“I believe it was the secondary crash that caused the injuries,” Hove said, but he added that he did not know for sure. Troopers who responded to the scene were unable to be reached as they had gone home from the night shift.

Hove said the names of the victims involved were expected to be released later Wednesday afternoon.

The multi-vehicle crash closed westbound lanes of the interstate in the early morning hours. One lane was reopened about 5 a.m.

By 7 a.m., cleanup continued at the site of the accident. Men worked to clear out the contents of the truck, which was carrying grocery items. Wooldridge said officials also believe about 100 gallons of diesel had spilled.

“It’s going to take a few hours to clean up,” Wooldridge said. He said one lane likely would be closed until mid-day.

Wooldridge said Steve Ritch Envrionmental would be handling the diesel cleanup.