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Fatal Traffic Crash - Highway 82 near Union / Wallowa County Line
06/09/2011
Lieutenant Gregg Hastings
Public Information Officer
(503) 731-3020 ext. 247

Photograph links valid 30 days - Source: Oregon State Police
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Oregon State Police (OSP) troopers are continuing the investigation into Wednesday afternoon's multiple vehicle traffic crash that resulted in the death of an adult male and injuries to six other people on Highway 82 near the Union / Wallowa county line. Available names are being released.
 
According to OSP Sergeant Kyle Hove, on June 8, 2011 at approximately 2:00 p.m. a truck pulling a box trailer loaded with livestock driven by MICHAEL DAVID WRIGHT, age 54, from Haines, was traveling eastbound downhill on Highway 82 near milepost 31 within a highway work zone. Traffic was controlled by flaggers into one lane for both directions.
 
As the truck and trailer approached the narrowed traffic lanes WRIGHT was unable to stop, driving past a flagger and sideswiping two westbound pickups. As the truck and trailer continued eastbound it collided nearly head-on with a Volkswagen Jetta containing four occupants. The truck and trailer then overturned on its left side and onto a Jeep Cherokee with two occupants.
 
WRIGHT was pronounced deceased at the scene. Eight cows and 9 calves in the trailer were also reported killed. Several other cattle were injured, some seriously.
 
The Volkswagen's driver, CHRISTOPHER NESSA, age 67, from Mission Viejo, California and his three female passengers were all transported to Grande Ronde Hospital in La Grande. CHRISTOPHER NESSA was treated and released. His mother/passenger, MARGARET NESSA, age 82, from Twin Falls, Idaho was seriously injured and remains hospitalized. Two other passengers identified as wife BEVERLY NESSA, age 65, and BARBARA KUNKLE, age 78, were both transported by air to separate Idaho-area hospitals for treatment of serious injuries.
 
The adult male driver and female passenger of the Jeep Cherokee were transported to Wallowa Memorial Hospital for treatment of unknown injuries. Their names have not been confirmed at this time.
 
The occupants of the two sideswiped pickups were not injured.
 
Highway 82 was closed for several hours.
 
OSP troopers from the La Grande Area Command office are continuing the investigation into the cause of the crash.
 
OSP was assisted by Union County Sheriff's Office, Wallowa County Sheriff's Office, Elgin Police Department, Elgin Rural Fire Department and ODOT.