Parkdale man dies in Hwy 35 crash

Jan. 26, 2011

Robert Steven Cupit, age 63, from Clear Creek Road in Parkdale, was pronounced deceased at the scene of a semi-truck versus car accident on Highway 35 about 13 miles north of Bennett Pass on Jan. 21 just before 6 p.m. Oregon State Police (OSP) troopers are continuing the investigation into Friday afternoon's crash that resulted in Cupit's death. The semi involved was a 2003 Kenworth truck pulling a dump trailer driven by Fred E. Jorgenson, age 63, from Husum, Wash.. According to OSP reports from the scene, Jorgenson was northbound on Highway 35 near milepost 77 going around a curve when he came upon Cupit's 1996 Honda Accord traveling southbound in the northbound lane. Jorgenson reported braking and steering to the left in an attempt to avoid the oncoming vehicle, but the car crashed into the right side wheel axle on Jorgenson's dump trailer. The impact tore away the Accord's passenger side before the car came to rest in the northbound lane. The truck slid to a stop along the side of the northbound lane. Cupit, the Accord's driver and lone occupant, was not using safety restraints, according to OSP. Jorgenson was using safety restraints and was not injured. According to Cupit's wife, Lisa, Cupit underwent triple by-pass surgery just over a year ago and was on multiple heart medications. She reported that her husband normally was a religious seatbelt wearer and may have removed his belt due to chest pain. The Cupit's were employed as the last full-time rangers at Tucker Park until 1991. Robert had, since then, worked as a criminal defense investigator in Portland. He was also a song-writer and local performer. "We moved here from Cascade Locks last September to be closer to medical help for his heart," Cupit said. "We had lunch the day of the accident. We were both watching the river. He went up the mountain to see what it looked like up there. We think he may have had a heart attack or a stroke," said Cupit. Road and weather conditions were not a factor in the crash, according to OSP Lt. Pat Ashmore, and blood toxicology test results are still pending. Local emergency responding agencies and ODOT assisted at the scene. The highway was closed for several hours during the investigation. OSP troopers from The Dalles Area Command office are requesting the public's assistance to complete the crash investigation. Any information regarding the whereabouts and activities of Robert Cupit between the hours of 2:30 and 5:50 p.m. on Friday would be appreciated, according to Sgt. Julie Wilcox. Also any motorists who encountered a vehicle being operated in a reckless manner on Highway 35 prior to the time of the crash are asked to contact Trooper Brent Ocheskey at 541-296-8126 or by e-mail at

Cupit, a former Marine and Vietnam veteran, had requested a military service and cremation in the event of his death. Services will be held Friday, Jan 28 at 4:30 p.m. at Anderson's Tribute Center in Hood River.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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