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Fatal Traffic Crash - Highway 230 in east Douglas County
10/05/2008
Sergeant Steve Mitchell
Oregon State Police - Roseburg
Office: (541) 440-3334

A Central Point-area man died and his passenger was critically injured Saturday night when their car and a pickup traveling in the opposite direction both simultaneously struck a cow on a section of State Route 230 between Highway 62 and Highway 138E in Douglas County. The area where the fatal crash occurred is considered "Open Range", and the other vehicle's occupants were not injured.
 
According to Oregon State Police (OSP) Sergeant Steve Mitchell, on October 4, 2008 at 8:33 p.m., a 2002 Buick Century driven by NEWTON RODNEY WONACOTT, age 51, from Central Point, was westbound on State Route 230 near milepost 15 as a 2006 Ford F-250 Crew Cab pickup driven by AARON EUGENE PLATT, age 28, from Redmond, was approaching eastbound at the same location. As the two vehicles were approaching one another, both stuck a dark colored cow moving across the highway at the same time.
 
The Buick continued westbound and went off the westbound shoulder where it collided with a tree before coming to a stop. NEWTON WONACOTT died at the scene. Right front passenger RUBY WONACOTT, age 80, from Medford, was taken by a citizen to Prospect to seek medical assistance. She was later transported by ambulance to Providence Medical Center with critical injuries. Investigating troopers have not determined if either person was using safety restraints.
 
The Ford pickup continued eastbound and came to a controlled stop a short distance from the scene. PLATT was using safety restraints and was not injured. Right front passenger, JEREMY PHIPPS, age 26, from Prineville, and right rear passenger MICHAEL VARLEY, age 33, from Madras, were using safety restraints and neither was injured.
 
The involved vehicles didn't come into contact with one another during this crash. The cow also died as a result of the crash.
 
The westbound lane of State Route 230 was closed for approximately five hours. Troopers from the OSP Roseburg Area Command office are continuing the investigation. OSP was assisted at the scene by ODOT, Douglas County Sheriff's Office, and the Douglas County Medical Examiner. OSP troopers from the Roseburg office have investigated three fatal traffic crashes over the weekend.
 
The area of the crash is deemed as "Open Range" for livestock. The landowner for the cow was identified and contacted by OSP troopers but that information is not available for this release. Information about what is an "Open Range" and areas in the State where livestock is allowed to run at large is available on the Oregon Department of Agriculture's website at: http://www.oregon.gov/ODA/AHID/livestock_id/openclosed_range.shtml.
 
According to Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) crash analysis statistics for 2007, there were a total of 44,162 reported traffic crashes of which 732 involved an animal. There is not information in the 2007 reported to indicate how many of these involved "livestock". Of the 732 reported crashes there were 4 fatal crashes resulting in four deaths, and 145 were non-fatal crashes in which 189 people were injured. There were no reported fatal crashes and 7 non-fatal crashes involving an animal in Douglas County last year.
 
The 2007 Oregon Traffic Crash Summary information is available on ODOT's website at:
http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/TD/TDATA/car/docs/2007CrashSummaryBook.pdf.