Two people were killed and four more injured in a collision with an Oregon Department of Transportation snowplow on Mount Hood Highway Saturday afternoon on the eastern edge of Clackamas County.
The crash occurred at approximately 3:40 p.m. near milepost 59, east of Government Camp and less than a mile from the border of Hood River County, Oregon State Police officials said.
According to investigators, a Subaru Outback operated by 26-year-old Althea Spahn, of Beaverton, was westbound on Highway 26 with four passengers, when she lost control, spun out, crossed into the eastbound lane, and was struck by the oncoming ODOT snowplow, operated by Jessie White, 29, of Troutdale.
Two passengers in the Subaru, 24-year-old Lillian Alma Spahn and 28-year-old Micah Paul Strauss, both of Portland, were pronounced dead at the scene.
The three surviving occupants of the Subaru and the operator of the ODOT snowplow were transported to local hospitals for medical treatment, troopers said.
The roadway was closed for approximately six hours while investigators and first responders worked the scene. Poor road conditions were a significant factor in the crash, officials determined.
OSP was assisted by American Medical Response, Hoodland Fire, ODOT, the Clackamas County Medical Examiner’s Office and the Clackamas County District Attorney’s office.
White was not the first or only ODOT employee to be injured in relation to this week’s winter blast, which dumped up to 10 inches of snow in parts of Portland and stalled traffic for hours on Interstate 5 and 205.
An ODOT operator, a 10-year veteran of the state’s Incident Response program, was injured Friday morning when his truck was rear-ended by a passenger vehicle on the shoulder of I-205 near the south end of the Glenn Jackson Bridge.
The ODOT operator had been assisting a semi-truck that had been struggling on the icy road and had his chevron lights activated at the time of the crash.
“This is a reminder that we all need to be extra careful out there,” said Rian Windsheimer, Portland area manager for ODOT. “ODOT and other emergency responders are out risking their lives to keep the roads safe for us every day and we need to Move Over, slow down, and give them space to work.”
Winter weather is still affecting numerous roads statewide, and officials are urging travelers to be prepared for snow, ice, downed branches, high winds and low temperatures over the next few days.
Some roads may be closed or partially blocked by downed trees and branches, particularly roads along the coast. Road conditions are worse at higher elevations, ODOT said, and the Cascades will have dangerously low wind chill temperatures this weekend.
“Our crews are out around the clock Friday and through the weekend,” ODOT said in a news release. “They’re helping remove disabled vehicles from the roads, plowing snow, ice and slush, and treating the roads to help with traction. We’re shifting resources as best we can, but we can’t be everywhere at once.”
ODOT advises Oregonians to delay or avoid travel if they’re able to, and check tripcheck.com before they leave. Look for road closures or delays on your route, and stick to major interstates or highways if possible. Many back roads are not maintained during the winter.
Pack water, snacks, medications, warm clothing, and other essentials. Top off your gas tank or battery. Pack tire chains. Be safe and only install them in designated areas.
Finally, drive to the conditions. Slow down and give other travelers space, and move over for people or vehicles in the road shoulder.
Help us build a sustainable news organization to serve Canby for generations to come! Let us know if you can support our efforts to expand our operations and keep all of our content paywall-free. #SwimWithTheCurrent!