Woman killed in Sunday I-84 crash

March 30, 2011

A Happy Valley-area woman was killed Sunday and three other people injured in a crash on Interstate 84 just west of Cascade Locks.

Oregon State Police troopers are continuing the investigation into the 5:37 p.m. wreck near milepost 42.

Cascade Locks firefighters passed the scene about a minute after the crash, while heading home, eastbound, from an earlier non-injury crash on I-84.

"We had to go to the next exit and double back. We were fighting traffic, which had literally stopped," said Fire Chief Jeff Pricher. "One of the cars looked like it was cut in half."

According to Trooper Jason Calloway, preliminary investigation indicates a 1992 Acura Vigor four-door driven by Marc Edward Taylor, 20, from Edmonds, Wash., was westbound in the right lane at freeway speeds.

Taylor reportedly didn't see traffic ahead was stopped and crashed into the back of a 1992 Geo Metro two-door. The impact pushed the Geo Metro forward into the back of a 1990 Ford Econoline van, leading to a chain-reaction crash involving four other vehicles that were stopped in both westbound lanes.

The Geo Metro's driver, Vicky Ann Bankhardt, 33, from Happy Valley, was pronounced deceased at the scene. The freeway surface was wet and it was raining at the time of the accident.

Pricher said the firefighters were traveling in a fire engine, and notified the Cascade Locks ambulance to go to the scene.

"When we showed up we went to the (Geo Metro) and unfortunately the occupant was deceased. There was nothing we could do," Pricher said.

Taylor and his two passengers received minor injuries. They were transported by ground ambulance to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland for treatment. The two passengers are identified as Alison M. Maclean, 20, from Nampa, Idaho, and Dejon D. Bowman, 20, from Tumwater, Wash. Neither passenger wore safety restraints, according to OSP.

The Ford Econoline van's driver, William R. Closner, 75, from Stevenson, and the other four drivers were not injured. These vehicles were later driven from the scene.

OSP troopers from The Dalles Area Command office are continuing the investigation with the assistance of the Hood River County District Attorney's Office. No enforcement decision has been made pending the completion of the investigation.

OSP was assisted at the scene by Hood River County Sheriff's Office, Cascade Locks Fire Department and the Oregon Department of Transportation.

One lane was closed three hours during the investigation.

Pricher said his department worked with ODOT to get one lane open within about 40 minutes after the accident. He said about two hours later OSP closed it again to do accident reconstruction as part of the investigation.

Pricher said I-84 was "ridiculously busy" as the earlier non-injury accident that caused the backup.

"Drivers are not smart," he said. "They don't pay attention, or they wait until the last minute to slow down or change lanes.

"That's why the fire department guys have to do what we do sometimes in terms of traffic control and taking precautions," he said.

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