Young motorist sentenced for injuring truck driver

A college student was sentenced Sept. 24 for losing control of his car last December and striking a truck driver near the Koberg rest area.

Jeremy Jewkes, 19, of College Place, Wash., admitted to Hood River Judge Donald Hull that he had been driving too fast in his red Honda on Interstate 84 during a winter storm. Because of his speed, Jewkes acknowledged that his car spun out, slid into the center divider, and veered back across the roadway into Terry Erickson, 60, of Spokane, who was chaining up his rig on the shoulder of the west-bound lane. Because of that collision, Erickson was forced to have his left leg amputated and sustained multiple fractures in his right leg and chronic injuries to both his hips and back. According to police reports, the accident also caused several other vehicles to crash and stalled freeway traffic for about two-and-a-half hours.

"In one heartbeat I went from a healthy, happy, active, 60-year-old enjoying what I call my `golden years' with my kids and grandkids to a disabled person unable to enjoy the lifestyle that I had worked my entire life for," said Erickson in a written statement to the court. Because he was wheelchair bound and lived several hundred miles away, Erickson chose not to make a personal appearance, according to Hood River District Attorney John Sewell.

"Everytime he (Jewkes) gets behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, he needs to be aware that he is behind the wheel of a guided missile, and that he alone is the guide with sole responsibility for its actions," wrote Erickson.

Sewell said just moments before the Dec. 13 collision, police had clocked Jewkes on radar going about 68 miles per hour, when the weather conditions had slowed other traffic to about 40 miles per hour. The accident occurred before the officer could pursue him. Erickson was one of four truck drivers who had stopped that day to chain up a few hundred yards west of a freeway reader board alerting trucker to apply traction devices.

After pleading guilty to the charge of Assault III, Jewkes was ordered to spend 60 days in jail, followed by 36 months of probation. He was given 160 hours of community service and a $2,000 compensatory fine that will go to Erickson. In addition, he was directed to attend traffic safety class, continue his full-time education and write updates to the court every six months about his progress.

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