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Fatal Commercial Truck Crash - Interstate 5 at Belt Line Road Interchange
Lieutenant Mike Bloom
Oregon State Police - Springfield
Office: (541) 726-2536
Lieutenant Gregg Hastings
Public Information Officer
Office: (503) 731-3020 ext. 247
Pager: (503) 323-3195

Photograph links valid for 30 days - Source: Oregon State Police
A commercial truck driver died Sunday afternoon at a Springfield-area hospital after his truck failed to stop for slowing traffic and ran into the back of another commercial vehicle northbound on Interstate 5 at the Belt Line Road interchange. A third commercial truck was also involved in the crash. Troopers originally believed the victim was from Texas but next of kin were found and it is now believed he is from North Carolina.
Preliminary information from Oregon State Police (OSP) Trooper Andy Youngblood indicates on June 14, 2009 at approximately 12:30 p.m. traffic northbound on Interstate 5 at the Belt Line Road interchange near milepost 195 was slowing due to heavy congestion. A 2001 Freightliner truck driven by ERNEST D. WHITSON, age 60, from Centralia, Washington had slowed to a near stop at less than 5 mph with emergency hazard lights on when a northbound truck driven by GEORGE R. KENT, age 66, from Bunn, North Carolina, failed to brake and crashed into the back of WHITSON's commercial trailer. The initial impact pushed WHITSON's vehicles forwarded and into the back of a trailer pulled by another commercial truck driven by MICHAEL K. SCHLINSOG, age 35, from Osseo, Wisconsin.
KENT was extricated by Eugene and Springfield Fire Department personnel. Confirmation of safety restaint use was pending. He was transported by ambulance to Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend in Springfield where he died from his injuries.
WHITSON and SCHLINSOG were both using safety restraints and received minor injuries. They were also transported by ambulance to the RiverBend medical facility for treatment.
The northbound lanes of Interstate 5 were closed for the investigation and removal of the involved commercial trucks and trailers. ODOT, with the assistance of Eugene Police Department, coordinated traffic detours. Northbound traffic was re-opened about 5:15 p.m.
OSP troopers from the Springfield Area Command office are continuing the investigation.