March 4, 2014
Lieutenant Gregg Hastings
Public Information Officer
(503) 731-3020 ext 247
Oregon State Police (OSP) troopers are continuing the investigation into Sunday night's multiple crashes involving commercial motor vehicles along Interstate 84 east of Pendleton that resulted in the death of two men. The victims' names and additional related information are released in this update.
According to Lieutenant Mike Turner, on March 2, 2014 at approximately 7:30 p.m., OSP troopers, ODOT and local emergency responders were dispatched to reports of numerous traffic crashes in the area of Interstate 84 near milepost 221. Several crashes occurred in reported heavy fog on icy roads, most involving commercial motor vehicles.
Updated information indicates a 2005 Volvo truck pulling a semi-trailer driven by VASILIY LOBODYUK, age 38, from Portland, was westbound when LOBODYUK lost control on ice and crashed on the side of the road with the trailer partially resting on the roadway. A series of crashes involving three other commercial trucks occurred associated with the initial crash.
After the secondary collisions, MARIO SANTANA, age 51, from Richland, Washington, was found deceased inside the 2009 Peterbilt truck he was driving. He was pulling two empty milk trailer containers.
A second victim, GERALD ALEXANDER, age 51, from Houston, Texas, was ejected from the 2003 Western Star truck he was operating. The flatbed trailer pulled by ALEXANDER's truck was loaded with metal. ALEXANDER's body was found about 3/4 mile west of the crash scene after he was drug by another vehicle. Investigators are working with the State Medical Examiner and OSP Forensic Services Division, along with speaking to any witnesses, to corroborate what vehicle may have caused ALEXANDER to travel that distance from the scene.
The ongoing investigation is looking into the possibility that an ODOT snow plow coming through the area after the collision may have accidentally pushed the victim down the road to where his body was found. An ODOT snow plow was examined for any evidence to confirm if this vehicle was involved and then released back to ODOT.
The fourth involved truck driver is identified as ARLINGTON QUARLESS, age 36, from Tacoma, Washington. A 50-year old co-driver/passenger was in that vehicle transporting US mail.
No other involved persons were transported to a hospital.
OSP troopers and collision reconstructionists from the Pendleton and La Grande offices, with the assistance of ODOT's Motor Carrier Transportation Safety Officer, worked the scenes that covered an extensive area. Any witnesses with additional information are asked to contact Trooper Ryan Sharp at (541) 278-4090 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
OSP was assisted at the scene by ODOT, ODOT Motor Carrier Safety Division, Umatilla Tribal Police Department, Umatilla Tribal Fire Department, Pendleton Fire and Ambulance, and East Umatilla County Health District.
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