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Covering the Hwy 26 Crash

by Pat Dooris

Bio | Email | Follow: @PatDoorisKGW

Posted on July 7, 2007 at 7:55 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 2:39 PM


It started out as such a beautiful day----sunny---not too hot---a wonderful time to be alive and out and about in Oregon.

I can only imagine what it was like for Janene Brundege as she drove her brown van towards Welches at the foot of Mt. Hood, but I'll bet she looked forward to the day.

She had her 23 month old, Abigail strapped safely in her car seat. Her 11 year old Quinton and his team mate Tyler Williams probably chatted happily about the summer and the baseball they were about to play.

I dont know the family but I can relate.

My family has had several similar trips with our boys and their friends on the way to swim meets or soccer matches. Its fun to see our kids energized and excited about sports.

The beautiful day became the worst of their lives on sweeping downhill stretch of highway 26 called Cherryville Hill.

The State Police say Janene was going downhill---east---when a 68 year old man---driving a blue van uphill---crossed the center line for an unknown reason and slammed into the front of Janene's van.

Neighbors who live nearby told me the sound of the crash was disturbingly loud---much louder and more profund than the crashes they hear when someone hits a deer.

Everyone ran to the scene and discovered the horror.

Janene and her toddler were dead. The impact hit so hard it may have ejected the toddler from the car seat and the van.
11 year old Tyler was dead too. Someone told me they noticed the baseball uniform as others gently lifted his still body from the van.

The man driving the other van did not have a seatbelt on. He was ejected and died too.

I could tell it would be bad long before we reached the scene. We saw a helicopter landing near Sandy and rushed over to it.

Lifeflight was loading another patient---the third---to rush to a Portland hospital.

An emergency worker shook his head in saddness when he talked about the crash scene. He has kids too. It hurts the heart to see such things.

I drove on toward the crash with waves of emotion rolling over me. What happened? And most importantly---why? I couldnt figure an answer and still can't.

I plugged in a talk by evangelist Joel Osteen. I like the way he looks at the world---but he didnt help on this one.

I tried country music. That didnt help either. It was terrible and horrible and those words I'm sure, dont begin to describe the gut wrenching pain of the families and loved ones impacted by the crash.

I reported the facts of what happened. I suppose we'll all grapple with the "why" for some time.

If you believe in a higher power like I do, this would be a good time to say a prayer for the families and for those who died on this beautiful summer day.

Pat Dooris