At approximately 8:35 a.m. Nov. 22, 2003 units from the Washington State Patrol, Department of Transportation, Klickitat County Sheriff's Office, fire/rescue and aid crews responded to a one vehicle versus semi-truck fatality collision on State Route 97 near milepost 18.
Luis Alberto Tapia, 24, of Vancouver was driving a 1995 Ford Explorer northbound on SR 97 when it crossed over the centerline into the southbound lane of traffic. The Explorer was struck in the passenger side by a southbound semi-truck and trailer driven by Edwin Warren Calkins, 53, of Scotia, Calif.
The impact caused the Explorer to travel off the west side of the highway and down an embankment approximately 70 feet. As a result of the collision, Mr. Tapia was pronounced dead at the scene. There were also two passengers in the Explorer at the time of the collision -- Mrs. Marie D. Maldonado De Tapia, 19, who was pronounced dead at the scene along with an infant who was in the back seat of the explorer who also died.
Mr. Tapia was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the collision. Mrs. Tapia was apparently not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected from the vehicle. The child was secured in a rear facing car seat in the back seat. The Explorer was also equipped with airbag that deployed.
The driver of the semi truck was not injured and neither was a passenger in the semi- truck, Michelle L. Tingley, 33, of Scotia, Calif.
At the time of the collision, the road surface was reported to be icy.
Investigation at the scene revealed that the Explorer may have been trying to avoid some guardrail cable that was reported to be in the roadway which contributed to the Explorer crossing over the centerline. The cable in the road was a result of an unknown vehicle collision striking the cable guardrail on the west side of SR 97 at milepost 18 just south of where the fatal crash occurred.
The Washington State Patrol is requesting anyone who witnessed or has information on the vehicle that struck the guard rail on the west side of SR 97 near milepost 18 to please contact the State Patrol at 773-3775.
In addition, the State Patrol is requesting information from anyone who witnessed the Explorer versus semi-truck collision to also contact the State Patrol.
The cause of the fatality collision remains under investigation by the Goldendale Washington State Patrol office and Vancouver Criminal Investigation Division.
Douglas S. Tollefson, 46, Estacada, Ore., was not injured when he was involved in a one-vehicle accident on Nov. 21, 2003, at approximately 6 a.m. on SR 97 at milepost 5.2.
According to the report, Tollefson was driving his 1994 Freightliner northbound on SR 97 when its trailer left the roadway to the east and dropped into a culvert.
One lane of traffic was partially closed for two to four hours.
The driver, who was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident, was cited for negligent driving.
The Oregon State Police is investigating a single vehicle crash on I-84 near Biggs, Ore., in which a 74-year-old driver was killed.
Henry Struck Jr. of Rufus, Ore., was killed when the 2002 Ford Escort he was driving left the eastbound lanes of I-84 and overturned.
Struck, who was not wearing a safety belt, was ejected from the vehicle when it rolled. Struck died at the scene of the crash.