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Crews to Drain Cougar * Pair escapes injury when pickup speared

From the February 7, 2001 edition of McKenzie River Reflections

Crews ready to drain Cougar

Cougar cooling tower


BLUE RIVER: Divers using mixed-gas technology in their scuba tanks have been working at depths of up to 200 feet while preparing Cougar Dam for planned upgrades. Underwater work has centered on removing a bulkhead at the upper end of the dam’s diversion tunnel and installing a trash rack to keep debris out when the reservoir is drained. In December, crews will remove a concrete plug that has closed the tunnel for nearly forty years. In 2002, the lake will be drained to allow workers to begin installing temperature control outlets. The new structures will allow dam operators in the future to aid fish habitat by regulating how warm or cold water is when it is released from the reservoir.



Pair escape injury when log bunk spears their pickup

CEDAR FLAT: A Vida girl escaped injury last Monday when her pickup was speared by debris from a log truck. The impact drove a log bunk (the frame which positions logs on a trailer) through the engine compartment and dashboard of Rachel Wierichs’ 1968 Ford 250.

According to Oregon State Police reports the wreck occurred at approximately 11 am on January 29. A ’92 Kenworth semi-truck was eastbound when one of the log bunks broke free and fell into the westbound lane. The log bunk collided with Wierichs’ truck and caused the hood to fly up, blocking her view. The pickup crashed into a drainage ditch on the eastbound side of the road.

A witness who was following behind told police he saw the log bunk fall off the back of the truck, bounce on the ground and then impale the pickup, which careened across the eastbound lane and crashed. The semi driver, Danny Freeman, 35, of Elmira, told police he stopped on the side of the road as soon as possible. Wierichs and her passenger, Jenna Harbick, were able to climb out of the truck on their own.

Wierichs, 17, said there was no time to react. When the hood of her vehicle flew up she was unable to see, steer, or brake effectively and crashed. Wierichs sustained some scrapes and bruises as well as a bump on her head.

Harbick also indicated that it happened very quickly and there was little time to react as the object crossed over into their lane. She also sustained minor scrapes and bruises.

Freeman said the log bunk was secured with two large pins at its base and a black cable. Police found the cable on the side of the road near a mailbox in the 8900 block of the McKenzie Highway.

Approximately 20 gallons of gasoline spilled into the drainage ditch and on the roadway. The Oregon Dept. of Transportation was notified and responded to assist with the cleanup.


This article is part of a series from the NewsArk, a project to preserve the history of the McKenzie River area. It involves the creation of a digitized collection of back issues of McKenzie River Reflections as well as the preservation of historical documents, photos and diaries. Contributions to help support the NewsArk can be sent to: McKenzie River Publishing, POB 172, Blue River, OR 97413.


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