Asleep at the Wheel: Driver Injures Passenger and Child

Date: July 11, 2011
Location: Highway 126E, milepost 12, near Walterville
Names: Mary Wullschleger, Connie Acord

Three people, including a 4-year-old boy, were injured early Monday morning in a single-vehicle accident when the car’s driver apparently fell asleep at the wheel.

Oregon State Police Trooper Michael Pelkey reported that at about 1:20 a.m. on July 11, a Toyota Corolla being driven by Mary Wullschleger, 42, from Springfield, was westbound on Highway 126E near Walterville. According to Trooper Pelkey, Wullschleger fell asleep at the wheel as the car approached milepost 12. The Corolla left the road and went over an embankment, then rolled at least once and struck a tree.

Wullschleger was carrying two passengers when the accident occurred—Connie Acord, age 53, and the four-year-old boy. All three were taken to Sacred Heart Medical Center in Riverbend, where their injuries were described as non-life threatening. According to the Oregon State Police report, the two women were both wearing safety restraints, and the young boy was in child safety restraints when the accident occurred. Besides OSP officers, members of Springfield Fire & Life Safety, Springfield Police Department, ODOT and McKenzie Fire Department all assisted at the scene.

Wullschleger was subsequently charged with two counts of recklessly endangering, one count of reckless driving and also for driving without an Oregon drivers license.

We would like to take this opportunity to wish all those involved in this accident a speedy and full recovery.

When children are injured, the law can get complicated fast. For example, while the standard Oregon injury case must be filed within 2 years of the accident, the statute of limitations for children, on the other hand, is not so straightforward. ORS 12.160 steps you through the process for figuring out the statute of limitations. First, the regular statute of limitations applies. Second, it doesn’t start running until the child turns 18 years old. But, third, the statute cannot be extended more than five years. And fourth, it cannot be extended beyond the child’s 19th birthday. In addition to the statute of limitations, there’s also the issue of money. Money recovered belongs to the injured child, not to his or her parents. In certain cases, a judge will need to oversee the situation to make sure this happens.