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 brent.ocheskey@state.or.us.

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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