This past weekend OSP Northern Command Center dispatch received a report of a vehicle driving northbound in the southbound lanes at milepost 219 about three miles north of Exit 216 and nine miles south of the Highway 34 interchange (Exit 228). Trooper Hunter was the only trooper on duty in the Albany area and responded south from milepost 238.
Two minutes later at 9:15 p.m., OSP was notified of a head-on collision in the southbound lanes near milepost 221. Shortly after emergency responders arrived on scene it was confirmed the wrong way driver, MONTY ROBERT FLOYD UPSHAW, age 71, from Tillamook, was deceased.
Preliminary investigation indicates a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt driven by UPSHAW was northbound in the southbound lanes when it sideswiped a 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee driven by KAILANI K. BROWN, age 31, from Springfield, then collided head-on with a 2005 Chevrolet pickup driven by OSIEL MILLAN FIGUEROA, age 35, from Coos Bay.
BROWN was not injured.
The pickup contained five occupants. The driver and three passengers received non-life threatening injuries and were transported to hospitals in Albany and Corvallis for treatment. The injured passengers were identified as MARGARITO MILLAN FIGUEROA, age 42; LORETO GARCIA ROJAS, age 32; and, CARMELA ESTRADA FLORES, age 34. A 2-year old male child passenger had no reported injury. All pickup occupants are from Coos Bay.
OSP is asking anyone with information regarding where the victim was prior to the traffic crash to please contact Trooper Casey Hunter at (541) 967-2026 ext. 4250.
OSP troopers from Albany and Springfield were assisted at the scene by Linn County Sheriff’s Office, Lebanon Police Department, Lebanon Fire Department, Halsey Fire Department, and ODOT. Southbound traffic was routed onto the shoulder until all lanes were opened at 1:20 a.m.
Cotter said alcohol is suspected as a contributing factor in this crash.
Wrong way drivers present an obvious danger to all motorists on our highways. The most recent available crash statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates wrong way drivers are involved in 1.5% of all fatal crashes nationally.
Wrong way drivers usually drive in the inside lane or inside shoulder, believing they are actually on a two-lane highway. Most common types of wrong way driver involved crashes are head-on or sideswipe crashes.
The following information and safety tips are offered related to wrong way drivers.
Who is the wrong way driver?
* Intoxicated driver
* Older drivers who easily get confused
* Intentional drivers (example – trying to avoid traffic jams / congestion caused by crashes)
* Inattentive drivers who mistake an off ramp for an on ramp
* Watch far ahead for signs of a possible wrong way driver, looking for signs similar to pending problems or developing emergency situations such as other traffic braking or swerving to avoid something, or the obvious – headlights coming in the opposite direction.
* Caution against driving long periods in the inside lane on freeways, especially on curves.