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SR 141 wreck leaves diesel slick

No serious injuries result from log truck, pickup accident

A wild sequence of events on State Route 141 last Friday left two vehicles damaged and a long diesel slick on Northwestern Lake Road -- but serious injuries were somehow avoided.

With the dramatic wreck scene, it took some time for investigators to piece together the sequence of events leading to the accident.

According to the report from Washington State Patrol Trooper Dale Luthy, this is how the incident unfolded:

At about 11:50 a.m., a northbound, empty log truck driven by Jerry Powers of White Salmon approached the intersection of SR 141/Northwestern Lake Road. A northbound Mustang was stopped in the roadway, signaling to turn left onto Northwestern Lake Road after traffic cleared.

Powers braked his log truck -- a 1991 Kenworth with a piggybacked log trailer -- and steered to the left to avoid striking the Mustang. He lost control of his rig, which rotated 180-degrees as it veered off the roadway to the left.

A 1997 Dodge pickup truck driven by Richard Carter of Hood River was headed southbound on SR 141 as this unfolded. In attempting to avoid the log truck, Carter veered off the roadway to the west and his vehicle was struck on the right side by the log truck.

The log truck's pole trailer was ejected and came to rest west of the road, while the front end of the truck came to a rest facing north on Northwestern Lake Road. The pickup truck came to a stop 20 feet south of and 10 feet below the western edge of SR 141.

"The guy in the pickup took evasive action and probably saved his life," Luthy said. "He made a split-second decision to hit the ditch. I applauded him for that. He made a better choice to take his chances in the trees rather than head on with a rig that size."

When the pickup hit the truck, it tore open the Kenworth's fuel tank, and approximately 80 gallons of diesel fuel flowed downhill along Northwestern Lake Road.

The Mustang, driven by Louise Mullins, from the Seattle area, was able to avoid being involved in the mishap.

Luthy said all the parties involved were extremely lucky.

"The potential there was astronomical," he explained. "Most people hit the brakes, and if Carter had done only that, he might not be with us today. His decision was a life-saving decision."

After the collision, Carter was transported by ambulance to Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital. Carter suffered a black left eye and a sore neck. Powers was not hurt.

The wreck scene left Northwestern lake Road closed for about half an hour, and SR 141 was restricted to one-lane travel, with a pilot car, for about an hour.

Luthy added that Powers was cited for going too fast for the conditions.

Cleanup crews from the county and from the Washington Department of Ecology responded to remove the leaked diesel fuel.

Carter's pickup truck was towed from the ditch by Reddi Towing of Carson. The log truck was able to be driven from the scene.


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