Portland, Ore., Oct. 22, 2014 – A fatal car crash involving multiple vehicles occurred on Interstate 5 late last week, injuring five victims and killing one. The fatality was a psychiatrist at Oregon State Hospital. According to details from the pending police investigation, the chain of collisions began with a 2005 Ford Ranger pickup truck.
The 53-year-old driver of the pickup was heading northbound on the interstate in a downpour when he crashed into the side of a tanker trailer shortly before 8:00 a.m. The pickup truck then crossed the raised grass median between north and southbound lanes and collided with a 1993 Nissan Sentra head-on before coming to a stop.
The Sentra had a painted zebra pattern on it, and many in the surrounding communities could recognize the car, with its license place of “ZENTRA,” as the car that belonged to the 54-year-old psychiatrist. The doctor died in the head-on crash.
He also had a passenger in his vehicle, a 64-year-old woman, whom he works with at the state hospital. She was critically injured in the collision, and responders transported her to a local hospital by ambulance.
Another two vehicles heading southbound were also involved in the collision. Two men in a 2002 Dodge Dakota pickup truck sustained minor injuries from the accident and went to a local hospital for treatment. A 1997 Toyota pickup was also involved in the multi-car crash, though the driver only sustained minor injuries, as well. State police are still investigating the accident, and they say the driver of the Ford Ranger, who sustained minor injuries, is cooperating with their staff.
Greg Roberts, Oregon State Hospital’s Superintendent, released a statement on behalf of the hospital after hearing the news of the psychiatrist’s death. He said staff at the hospital were “heartbroken” by the event and that it is a great loss for them, as well as for patients and others involved in the mental health community. The psychiatrist had been at Oregon State Hospital for nearly 28 years.
He had served as interim chief medical officer and supervising physician, and he was also the president of the local American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Roberts claimed his first love was working with patients, though.
According to traffic data, car accidents cost the city of Portland more than $100 million every single year in health care costs and productivity loss. Car accidents are also the number one cause of job-related deaths, and 40 percent of congestion on Portland roadways is non-recurring and primarily caused by collisions. Though reckless and negligent driving still cause a number of accidents, collisions with wildlife have increased dramatically in the past several years.
Police are still investigating the recent crash that resulted in one fatality and five injured, but they admit there is not always a clear cause of a crash. And when there is a cause, like a wildlife collision, it may still not be anybody’s fault; however, state officials believe one reason there has been an increase in collisions across the board, including with wildlife, is the fact that people use their cell phones while behind the wheel and are typically more distracted now in general.