Oregon Highway 97 Car Crash Kills Woman

Date: November 23, 2009
Location: Highway 97, Bend, Oregon
Names: Jeanne Coward, Dodd Hook, Lois Gruver

Jeanne Coward, 69, of Bend, Oregon, was killed November 23, 2009, around 2 PM, on Highway 97 near the Deschutes Market Junction when her car was struck by an SUV driven by Dodd Hook, 47, also of Bend. The crash also involved a third vehicle, an SUV driven by Lois Gruver of Bend.

According to KOHD.com, Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office and Oregon State Police were called to the crash involving the Ford Explorer, driven by Hook, which had been reported for driving erratically, weaving, and possibly striking the median barrier. The crash occurred minutes after 911 received the erratic driving call.

Hook lost control of his vehicle and sideswiped Gruver’s car in the oncoming southbound lanes. Hook’s car then overturned and rolled into Coward’s car. Coward was pronounced dead at the scene. Hook suffered non-life-threatening injuries; he was taken to St. Charles Medical Center, where he was treated and released from the emergency room. Gruver was not injured.

There was no evidence of speeding or intoxicants as factors, and authorities were baffled as to what might have caused the crash; however, KTVZ.com reports that Hook’s erratic driving may have resulted from a medical condition.

A friend of Hook’s told KTVZ that Hook was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes over 20 years ago. The condition was not detected until he was in his 20s and was drafted for professional baseball. According to Hook’s friend, who asked not to be named, Hook “most likely” passed out from low blood sugar.

The friend said Hook was “extremely responsible” with managing his diabetes. He even had two wireless devices, a “pod” that infused him with insulin when needed, and a second device to monitor blood sugar.

“We’re really upset about what happened to this lady,” the friend told KTVZ. “It was a freak thing. We don’t know exactly what happened. If his blood sugar goes very low, very fast,” trouble can arise.

As of November 24, sheriff’s deputies were continuing to investigate, and asked any witnesses, or anyone with information, to contact them at 541-388-6655.

We send our condolences to Coward’s family after this sudden, shocking crash. We hope that they will find support in the community, and comfort in the prayers of others.

When a driver passes out due to a medical condition, it can be difficult to figure out who’s fault it is. You may be surprised to read this from a personal injury attorney, but it may be nobody’s fault. A freak accident is what we call an “act of God,” and nobody gets blamed.

But, here are some other possibilities:
-The driver may have been on medication that specifically stated he shouldn’t drive. That would make it the driver’s fault.
-The driver may have been on medication that did not state he shouldn’t drive, but should have! That would make it the fault of whoever produced, tested, and labeled the medication.
-The driver may have been on medication that should state that he shouldn’t drive, but the pharmacist mislabeled it. Pharmacy’s fault.
-The driver’s doctor may have misdiagnosed a condition, and therefore failed to tell the driver that he shouldn’t be driving.

There’s no way to know what actually happened to cause this tragedy without further investigation. This is certainly a situation that can get complicated fast. A victim doesn’t have to sue, and many choose not to, but those involved should certainly know what their legal and insurance options are. A competent personal injury attorney can help guide you through the process.