Feb 21,2007 00:00
A St. Helens woman whose driving privileges were suspended died Tuesday afternoon when her van crossed the centerline of Highway 30 near Deer Island and crashed head-on into a commercial truck and trailer. Minutes before the accident, motorists in the area called police dispatch to report the van being driven erratically, authorities said.
Investigation revealed that Smith’s 1989 Chevrolet Astro crossed the centerline and struck a truck towing an empty chip trailer. The truck’s driver, identified as Guy D. Burback, 50, of Rainier, tried to avoid the collision by moving to the right shoulder against the guardrail, but the vehicles crashed head-on.
After impact the truck came to rest in the westbound lane, while the van was partially in a ditch on the eastbound shoulder, troopers said.
Smith is believed to have been wearing safety restraints, but was ejected from the van. Burback, driving for Lemmon Trucking of Longview, Washington, was also using safety restraints. He did not receive injuries that required ambulance transport.
OSP troopers with the St. Helens office are continuing the investigation, including whether alcohol and/or drugs were contributing factors.
Oregon Department of Transportation personnel established a detour around the accident scene, reopening Highway 30 to traffic about three and one-half hours later, near 7 p.m.
Deputies with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, and Columbia River Fire and Rescue paramedics provided assistance at the scene.