On July 16, 2008, at approximately 7:10 p.m. eastbound Interstate 84 traffic was stopped due to a freeway closure in the Hood River area with signs posted advising of the closure. A Volvo truck pulling a semi-trailer was stopped in the right hand eastbound lane near milepost 62 behind the long line of other stopped traffic.
An eastbound 2006 International truck pulling a semi-trailer loaded with shoes was approaching the stopped eastbound traffic when its driver, Rober Loeh, 49, from Illinois, failed to stop and swerved to the right to avoid the stopped Volvo truck and semi-trailer. The left side of the International truck struck the right rear corner of the semi-trailer, splitting open the side of the truck.
After impact, the International truck and semi-trailer continued off the right side of the eastbound lanes and up an embankment where a passenger in the sleeper berth was ejected out of the truck. The semi-trailer overturned onto its side, spilling the load of shoes onto the shoulder and toward the eastbound lanes. The truck remained upright as it came to a stop.
The 47-year old male passenger, Kerry Ray Boatman, from Marshall, Mich., was pronounced deceased at the scene.
Loeh received non-life threatening injuries and was transported by ambulance to Hood River Memorial Hospital.
The driver of the Volvo truck, Armin Ghorbanpoor, 21, from British Columbia, received minor injuries and was transported to Hood River Memorial Hospital. He was treated and released.
Both drivers were using safety restraints.
Troopers and officers at the scene reported several people in the area were caught trying to steal shoes that spilled out of the overturned trailer. There is no information that enforcement action was taken against these people but this type of activity interferes with emergency responders work, the investigation, and is illegal.
Oregon State Police troopers from The Dalles Area Command office are continuing the investigation. Hood River County Sheriff's Office, Hood River Police Department, Hood River Fire Department, and ODOT assisted at the scene.
On Friday, July 18, 2008, law enforcement officers from the Wasco and Klickitat County Sheriff's offices and the Oregon State Patrol received a report of a missing windsurfer in the Columbia River near Doug's Beach.
While responding to the incident, officers received further information that two individuals had been spotted performing CPR on someone on the Oregon side, near milepost 79 on I-84.
When medical personnel and officers arrived on scene, it was determined that the CPR efforts had been unsuccessful, and the person was deceased.
The victim was identified as Damien L. Winters, 35, The Dalles.
The cause of death is undetermined, but witness accounts of the incident indicated that Winters had been performing complex aerobatics, and appeared to have crashed during a back flip maneuver. Witnesses lost sight of him at this point, but located his windsurfing gear floating in the river nearby.
A short time later, Winters was located unconscious and non-responsive in the river by a passing windsurfer. The windsurfer pulled Winters to the Oregon shore, where he and another surfer began performing CPR.
The incident is still under investigation and an autopsy is scheduled to be performed by the Oregon State Medical Examiners Office.
If anyone has information regarding this investigation, contact the Wasco County Sheriff's Office, (541) 506-2580.