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Posts Tagged ‘Oregon State Police (OSP)’

With the prospect of thousands of motorcyclists visiting Oregon roads this coming weekend could it be one of the deadliest?

I hope not, but on July 15 – 18th two major motorcycle rallies take place in Oregon.  The first is the BWM International Rally in Redmond, OR.  It’s been 9 years since the BMW National Rally has been held in the state and area businesses are rolling out the welcome mat.  There is the Redmond 1000 long distance ride (1000 miles in 24 hours) for motorcyclists along with more than 100 vendors who have set up shop on the rally grounds.  In addition, Redmond is the starting point of the 2010 Rally Coast-to-Coast.

BMW National Rally -- Redmond, OR

On the same dates is the Good Vibrations Rally in Salem/Keizer.   Rally activities are happening at Salem Harley-Davidson, Oregon State Fairgrounds, Spirit Mountain Casino, and the cities of Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, and McMinnville.  The Good Vibration event is produced by Randy Burke, President of Road Shows Inc., and is modeled after his very popular Street Vibrations Rally held every year in Reno, NV.  The Oregon rally has the added value of wine tastings at Willamette Valley Vineyards and Orchard Heights Winery.

Northwest Motorcycle Rides

Both rallies bring desperately needed tourist dollars into the state, while providing riders with some fantastic summer weather, Northwest scenery, winding roads and top tier entertainment.  But why has Oregon State Police (OSP) yet to acknowledge the existent of the rallies in their media press release process?  And is ODOT so heads down on pothole repair to plan a state-wide advisory to “WATCH FOR MOTORCYCLES ON THE ROAD” campaign using the variable message signs around the state?

In the last 4 weeks we’ve seen 4 motorcycle related deaths and 2 riders seriously injured on Oregon roads:

1.    On July 10, 2010, a Harley Davidson motorcycle operated by WILLIAM ROY ANDERSON, age 60, from Aloha, was northbound on Highway 97 near milepost 17 when it failed to negotiate a curve and struck a guardrail.  ANDERSON was ejected from the motorcycle onto the highway and then run over by two commercial trucks traveling in opposite directions whose drivers were unable to avoid him.  ANDERSON was pronounced deceased at the scene.

2.    On July 8, 2010, a Harley Davidson motorcycle operated by JAMES C. HEADRICK, age 56, from Dallas, Oregon was northbound on Interstate 205 near milepost 10 when it came upon slowing traffic.  The motorcycle crashed into the back of a stopped 1998 Honda Civic driven by WALID M. SALLOUT, age 28, from southeast Portland, in the left northbound lane.  The motorcycle’s passenger, MELVA HEADRICK, age 61, from Dallas, was ejected off the motorcycle, over the concrete center barrier and landed in the left southbound lane.  No reported deaths from this accident.

3.    On June 26, 2010, a 2003 Harley Davidson operated by RAYMOND SCOTT McMAHON, age 49, from Bandon, was westbound on Highway 42 near milepost 26 followed by his brother on another motorcycle.  McMAHON entered a curve too fast, traveled off the highway into a ditch and then was ejected from the motorcycle as it went airborne.  McMAHON came to rest on the highway and was pronounced deceased at the scene.

4.    On June 17, 2010, JEFFERY DEAN RANDALL, age 39, from Klamath Falls, was operating a 1990 Kawasaki motorcycle eastbound on Highway 140E near milepost 29.  As RANDALL was negotiating a left curve the motorcycle travelled on to the gravel shoulder where he lost control.  The motorcycle crashed into a rock, ejecting RANDALL.  RANDALL was pronounced deceased at the scene.

5.    On June 11, 2010, a 2007 Honda Goldwing three-wheel converted motorcycle operated by DYRL ARNOLD SPENCER, age 64, was southbound on a straight stretch of Highway 395 near milepost 129 when it traveled partially off onto the right gravel shoulder.  SPENCER tried to bring the motorcycle back onto the highway but lost control, crossing both lanes and going off the opposite shoulder where it crashed into a tree about 30 feet off the highway.  SPENCER was pronounced deceased at the scene.

The state generated these stats in one of the wettest early summer riding seasons in 10+ years.  It’s only 3 days until we see a major influx of riders…

Please be careful out there!

UPDATE: July 12, 2010 — I received a response from the Governor’s Advisory Committee on motorcycle safety (Michele O’Leary) which stated there are no plans for the State Traffic Engineer to change the “NO” response on variable message sign use.  Good grief!  I’m starting to wonder if a rally the size of Sturgis would even convince the Oregon State Traffic Engineer to use the signs?!  However, there is more being done about safety awareness:

  1. Billboards are out on Hwy 97 and I-5 at Keizer for motorist awareness.  Radio spots are currently running, bus transits have ads and print ads are running.
  2. They just printed a new motorcycle map that is being made available at both rallies. The map is full of safety messages along with some awesome riding routes,. They also have some other safety information from the advisory committee.
  3. The Chair of the Governor’s Committee (David Peterson) will be at the BMW rally evangelizing safety.
  4. There is work in process on a communication/press release for the motoring public to be aware of what’s going on.

Michele notes: “We’ve been losing a lot of motorcyclists involved in group rides this year so please spread the word and encourage everyone to ride sober. Our concern with the Good Vibrations Rally in Salem/Keizer is the wine-tasting activity they’re doing and what safeguards they will have in place.”

Update: July 19, 2010 — A early scan of the motor vehicle accident reports suggest that this past rally filled weekend was relatively safe for motorcyclists.  The exception being where OSP was dispatched to an accident involving two motorcycles on Highway 20 near milepost 14. The incident was the result of a bucket which blew out from the back of a pickup onto the roadway.  A 2001 BMW K1200LT motorcycle, operated by BENJAMIN JONSSON, and passenger CARA JONSSON, both age 54, from Spruce Grove, Alberta Canada was westbound on Highway 20 near milepost 14 when they came upon the bucket. BENJAMIN JONSSON was able to successfully swerve and miss the bucket.
However, a 2003 BMW R1150T motorcycle, operated by FREDERICK HERZOFF, age 61, and passenger  as ANNETTE HERZOFF both from Paradise City, California were also westbound traveling some distance behind JONSSON’S motorcycle.  FREDERICK HERZOFF attempted to swerve around the bucket and in doing so crashed into the back of JONSSON’S motorcycle. JONSSON and HERZOFF were not traveling together.
All four riders were transported by ambulance to Saint Charles Hospital in Bend. BENJAMIN and CARA JONSSON sustained minor injuries. FREDERICK HERZOFF sustained serious injuries and ANNETTE HERZOFF critical injuries. All four riders were wearing helmets.

Accident information/photo courtesy of OSP.

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SB2C Flying In Formation

I’ve written previously about the Kwajalein Atoll and what is known in military circles as the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Site.

It’s part of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and is a premiere asset within the Department of Defense Major Range and Test Facility Base. I happen to know a little about “Kwaj” (aka: Kwajalein Island) having lived, worked on the island and flown in/out of Bucholz Army Airfield.  I haven’t blogged about my SCUBA diving experiences while on the island or discussed what was called the ‘aircraft graveyard’ of Kwajalein Atoll, but this came to my mind today when Oregon State Police (OSP) reported that loggers discovered a WWII-era U.S. Navy aircraft, specifically a Curtiss SB2C Helldiver near Rockaway Beach, OR., as part of logging operations on private property.

Oregon SB2C - Oregon State Police Photo

Designed in 1939, the Curtiss SB2C ‘Helldiver’ was a single-engine dive-bomber intended as the replacement for the earlier Douglas-built SBD ‘Dauntless’.  SB2C stands for Scout, Bomber, second dive bomber contract from Curtiss, and the ‘C’ was the letter assigned by the Navy to all aircraft built by Curtiss Aircraft Corporation. The Helldiver carried a crew of two — a pilot and a rear gunner who doubled as the radioman. Early versions of the Helldiver were armed with a single machine gun in each wing while later versions carried a 20mm cannon. The aircraft had an internal bomb bay and could carry a variety of bombs as well as depth charges. The Helldiver had a top speed of 295 mph and good range, making it an essential tool in the Pacific war.

Oregon SB2C - Oregon State Police Photo

Flying from the USS Bunker Hill, Helldivers of Bombing Squadron 17 saw a lot of action over Kwajalein Atoll during Operation Flintlock, which was the assault on the atoll in early 1944. Helldivers helped sink a number of the Japanese ships that lie on the lagoon floor and which we often had the opportunity to dive on.  They flew strikes against targets on several islands within the atoll. After the Japanese airbase on Roi-Namur was captured by American forces the Marine squadron VMSB-151 was initially assigned to Roi with SBD Dauntless dive bombers. The aircraft graveyard near Mellu Island has the wreck of at least one Helldiver.  One wreck we found lies in 85 feet and has one wing in the folded position. Parts of the tail are nearby. The wreck is missing the canopy and dive flaps, and we were never able to determine the specific variant of this particular aircraft. Unless a data plate can be located and photographed that has the manufacturer’s serial number, the history of the plane is very difficult to determine.

SB2C at 85' Near Mellu Island in Kwajalein Atoll

But I’ve digressed and need to get back to Oregon’s SB2C find.

So the search process will begin with historians and analysis gathering to determine the air station where the aircraft flight originated.  The OSP Bomb Technicians have searched the area and found no signs of unexploded ordnance, but there is a possibility of human remains on the site and a team of U.S. Navy personnel are working on-scene to investigate.   All information is being shared with the Joint Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command (JPAC) in Honolulu.

The nearby Naval Air Station Tillamook was primarily used to house blimps and was base operations for Squadron ZP-33.   Because of steel rationing during WWII the hangars were built entirely of wood.   It was decommissioned in 1948 and is located about 20 miles southeast of the crash site.   It’s unclear if this aircraft is from the Tillamook station, but the Navy team is on-scene and is making a thorough, undisturbed investigation as safety and integrity of the aircraft site is important.  Initial responders reported seeing a wing, tail section, landing gear and other debris spread out over an approximately 200 yard heavily-wooded area.

I’ll update this post as more information becomes available.

UPDATE: 26 March 2010 – Additional news reports HEREHERE and HERE.  OSP provided a news release last night stating information as to the exact location is not being released to media in an effort to maintain scene integrity.  Oregon State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) Archeologist Matthew Diederich advised that it is a violation of State Law (ORS 358.905-955) to alter, damage, or remove material from this archaeological site. Violators will be prosecuted.  Important to note that the aircraft was discovered on 18 March 2010, but OSP released information on the discovery a week later on 25 March 2010.  Photos from the location area seem to indicate that the logging crew had already cut and removed much of the timber.  It’s unknown if they did so prior to notifying authorities.  If they trampled the so-called “archaeological” scene with equipment prior to notifying LEO will they be subject to ORS 358.905-955?  The Oregonian reported that Sig Unander Jr. (a Cornelius resident) who has spent years researching and tracking down wreckage of military planes estimates there are approximately 30 military aircraft in WA., OR., ID., and MT., from the mid-1930’s through the mid-1940’s that are unaccounted for.

UPDATE: 31 March 2010 – Oregonian reported that a former mechanic for the Navy (Alvin Boese) remembered the crash which was first published on 1 April 1948.  A story which ran the next day stated the pilot was identified as Chief Aviation Pilot R.W. Smedley of Long Beach, CA.  The Navy has not confirmed this crash was the same or would they comment on the circumstances of this “new” find until they were confident of the results.

Photo’s courtesy of Bluejacket.com and OSP.

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