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Quadruple Fatal Traffic Crash - Highway 58 east of Oakridge
03/23/2009
Lieutenant Gregg Hastings
Public Information Officer
Office: (503) 731-3020 ext. 247

Photograph links valid for 30 days - Source: Oregon State Police
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Oregon State Police (OSP) troopers are continuing the investigation into Monday morning's fatal traffic crash that resulted in the deaths of Springfield and Albany-area couples on Highway 58 about five miles east of Oakridge. The victims' names are being released and the cause of the crash is still undetermined.
 
On March 23, 2009 at approximately 6:00 a.m. a commercial truck operator on Highway 58 near milepost 41 spotted a vehicle down an embankment into a tree on the north side of the highway. Local emergency responders were notified and OSP troopers were called out from their homes to respond to the scene. Oakridge Fire and Police Department personnel arrived on scene and confirmed there were 3 known fatalities. After OSP troopers arrived and began the investigation, a closer examination inside the vehicle confirmed there was a fourth victim.
 
Investigation indicates shortly before 6:00 a.m. a 2001 Chevrolet Geo Tracker sport utility vehicle driven by LEROY MILLARD WEST, age 59, from Springfield, was eastbound on a straight stretch of Highway 58 near milepost 41. For an unknown reason, the Geo Tracker traveled across the westbound lane and off the north side of the highway where it became airborne as it rolled. The top of the vehicle crashed into a large cedar tree, crushing the passenger compartment.
 
LEROY WEST and the three passengers were all pronounced deceased at the scene. The three passengers are identified as his wife, LANETTA KAY WEST, age 62, who was seated in the left rear seat and right front passenger WILLIAM RAY FREEMAN, age 51, and his wife, PAULA DI-ANNE CLARY SMITH, age 43, both from Albany, who was seated in the right rear seat. CLARY SMITH is LANETTA WEST's daughter.
 
All victims were using safety restraints and they were reportedly on a trip to Reno, Nevada. Fire personnel extricated them from the vehicle.
 
Oregon State Police Senior Trooper Dustin Sprague and troopers from the Oakridge work site and Springfield Area Command office are continuing the investigation with the assistance of the Lane County Medical Examiner's office. There were some icy spots in the general area but it is not known if these conditions played a factor in this crash.
 
ODOT assisted with traffic while travel was restricted to one lane until the scene was cleared at approximately 1:00 p.m.