One Dead, One Injured on Icy Road in Prineville Accident

Date: November 20, 2009
Location: Highway 26, east of Prineville, Oregon
Names: Wayne L. Elliott, Robert C. Mair

A John Day, Oregon, man was killed November 20, 2009, when his car skidded out of control on icy roads and crashed into a truck on Highway 26, about 25 miles east of Prineville. The crash took place around 4:20 PM. Wayne L. Elliott, 55, of John Day, was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the truck, Robert C. Mair, 68, of Mitchell, sustained unknown injuries.

Sgt. Don Wagner of the Oregon State Police told KTVZ.com that Elliott was driving a 2004 Chevrolet SUV west on the highway, near milepost 50, when he lost control on the ice. The car veered into the oncoming lane and crashed with a 1998 Dodge 3500 truck driven by Mair.

Mair was airlifted to St. Charles Medical Center – Bend. His condition was unavailable as of November 21, and a nursing supervisor at the hospital told KTVZ.com that Mair was not listed as a patient. The road was closed for about two hours after the crash.

According to KOIN.com, both men were wearing seat belts. OSP troopers are continuing to investigate.

As we move from November into the chilly days of December and January, it is ever more important to take extra care and watch out for ice on the road. The Oregon Department of Transportation, in “Winter Driving Can Be Tricky,” warns that better cars, better roads, and better tires don’t take the place of careful driving.

Among ODOT’s tips:

•    In snow or fog, drive with your low beams on. And keep headlights clean – dirty headlights can cut visibility in half.
•    Keep a good grip on the steering wheel. Do not make sudden turns; if you skid, correct your car using a light touch.
•    Increase following distance, then increase it some more. ODOT recommends at least three times the normal following distance in snow or ice.
•    Plan ahead for intersections.
•    If you find yourself skidding, ease your foot off the accelerator. If you have a manual transmission, push in the clutch. While keeping your foot off the brake, steer the same direction your car’s rear end is skidding.
•    If you hit a patch of ice, ease up on the accelerator and let your car “roll” through.
•    Remember that posted speed limits are meant for dry conditions, not rain, snow, sleet, or ice. Slow down during winter weather.

What to do now:

•    Be prepared. Take a moment today to double-check your owner’s manual for the best braking technique for your car. Then, stash an emergency kit in the trunk.
•    Read our tips on driving in the rain.
•    Always make sure you and your passengers are wearing safety restraints.

We send our heartfelt condolences to Elliott’s family after this sad crash, and we hope Mair is recovering from his injuries. This is not a cut-and-dried case; many factors besides icy weather could have played a role. Sometimes an experienced personal injury attorney can help victims find the answers they’re looking for. If you have any questions about finding a good personal injury lawyer, please let us know.

Shulman DuBois, LLC, is located in Portland, Oregon, and serves clients in all Oregon cities and counties, including: Portland, Beaverton, Multnomah County, Hillsboro, Gresham, Lake Oswego, West Linn, Tualatin, Troutdale, Sellwood, Corvallis, Salem, Eugene, and Albany.