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April 9, 2014
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Roseburg crash claims life of Grants Pass woman

A Grants Pass woman was killed and two others were seriously injured when their car was struck from above by an airborne vehicle Tuesday afternoon in front of Roseburg High School.

Laura Beth Cortez, 53, was a backseat passenger in the car, which was hit by a sport utility vehicle driven by Gail Weaver, 56, of Myrtle Creek. Cortez died at the scene, officials said.

Weaver was on the northbound Interstate 5 offramp at Exit 124 and reportedly suffered a medical problem. She lost control of her vehicle, hit a curb and sailed into the West Harvard Avenue intersection, Roseburg police and Oregon state troopers said.

Police declined to elaborate on the type of medical problem Weaver suffered.

Cortez was in an eastbound Subaru Legacy driven by her son, Matthew Cortez, 24, of Cave Junction. He and another passenger, G. Reinhold Prince, 23, also of Cave Junction, were taken to Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg. Both were in fair condition, a hospital spokeswoman said today.

Weaver was taken to Mercy with minor injuries, where she was treated and released.

After hitting the Subaru, Weaver’s Honda CRV continued across the intersection and hit a Nissan Pathfinder driven by Eric Jenkins, 40, of Eagle Point. He and his wife, Cicely Jenkins, 39, were not injured.

The accident occurred at about 4:30 p.m. in front of the high school’s main entrance and closed Harvard Avenue, causing an afternoon backup as police and the Oregon Department of Transportation set up roadblocks and rerouted traffic.

No students were involved in the crash.

Roseburg High School Assistant Principal Larry Rich said few if any students were on campus when the accident occurred. Students typically leave campus between 3 and 3:30 p.m., he said.

Troopers said Weaver drove through bushes after hitting the curb on the west side of the offramp, scattering vegetation in the intersection.

The Subaru spun around after it was hit, rolled once and landed on its wheels.

The Honda came to a stop on its top just inside the entrance to the high school.

West Harvard remained close throughout the evening as OSP investigators reconstructed the crash. One lane reopened at about 9 p.m. All lanes were reopened at 11:30 p.m.

The crash is under investigation by OSP. It is unknown if charges will be filed, OSP Lt. Doug Ladd said.

Drugs and alcohol were not factors in the crash, Ladd said.

The Roseburg Police Department, Roseburg Fire Department, Oregon Department of Transportation and the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office are assisting in the investigation.

• Reporter Betsy Swanback can be reached at 541-957-4208 or bswanback@nrtoday.com.

The following version of this story appeared April 8 on nrtoday.com:

A 53-year-old Grants Pass woman died in a three-vehicle car accident that also injured two in front of Roseburg High School around 4:30 p.m. today.

Laura Beth Cortez was killed in the accident that closed Harvard Avenue in Roseburg between the Oak Avenue bridge and the school while police investigated the collision.

Matthew Cortez, 24, and G. Reinhold Prince, 23, both of Cave Junction, were seriously injured and transported by ambulance to Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg, according to Oregon State Police.

Their status was not immediately available Tuesday night.

According to OSP Lt. Doug Ladd, a Honda sport utility vehicle driven by Gail Weaver, 56, of Myrtle Creek, was exiting Interstate 5 when she hit a cub on the west side of the off ramp and drove through brush.

The Honda struck a Subaru passenger car driving eastbound on Harvard Avenue, causing the Subaru to spin and roll once before it came to rest on its wheels, he said.

The Honda continued across the intersection and hit a Nissan sport utility vehicle driven by a 40-year-old Eagle Point man. It came to rest on its wheels at the high school parking lot’s entrance, Ladd said.

The woman who died was seated in the back seat of the Subaru, Ladd said.

The Honda’s driver was also taken to Mercy for treatment of minor injuries. There was no evidence of alcohol as a contributing factor and she is cooperating with the investigation, Ladd said.

The Nissan’s driver and 39-year old female passenger were not injured.

OSP troopers from the Roseburg Area Command office are continuing the investigation. OSP was assisted by Roseburg Police Department, Roseburg Fire Department, Oregon Department of Transportation and the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office.

A Roseburg police officer on scene said Harvard is expected to remain closed until early Wednesday morning. The northbound Interstate-5 Exit 124 was also initially closed.

No Roseburg High School students were injured in the accident.

Oregon State Police are reconstructing the accident.

The names of the deceased have not been released. OSP said the names will be released Wednesday morning.

Go to Tripcheck.com for road updates. More information will appear here as it released. Look for a full story in Wednesday’s News-Review.

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An earlier version of the story appears below.

A fatal crash has closed Harvard Avenue in Roseburg between the Oak Avenue bridge and Roseburg High School while police investigate a three-vehicle collision.

Harvard is expected to remain closed until early Wednesday morning. The northbound Interstate-5 Exit 124 is also closed.

At about 4:30 p.m., a woman driving a Honda CRV suffered a medical problem as she was exiting northbound Interstate 5 at Exit 124, according to Roseburg Police Officer Keith Young.

Young said the Honda drifted off the offramp and went airborne. The car landed on top of a Subaru Legacy that was traveling eastbound on Harvard Avenue. A passenger in the Subaru Legacy was killed.

The driver and another passenger in the Subaru were taken to the hospital, Young said.

The Honda CRV also hit the front hood of a Nissan Pathfinder in the intersection. The driver and a passenger in the Nissan were not injured.

The Honda finally came to a stop when it hit a pickup that had been waiting at the stoplight at the exit to Roseburg High School. No one in the pickup was injured.

Young said no Roseburg High School students were injured in accident.

The woman driving the Honda was taken to the hospital with injuries.

Oregon State Police are reconstructing the accident. The names of the deceased and injured have not yet been released.

Go to Tripcheck.com for road updates. More information will appear here as it released. Look for a full story in Wednesday’s News-Review.

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The original version of the story appears below.

A fatal crash closed Harvard Avenue in Roseburg between the Oak Avenue bridge and Roseburg High School Tuesday evening while police investigate a vehicle accident.

Oregon State Police are reporting that one person died after being taken to the hospital.

A white two-door sedan with a smashed windshield and crushed roof was blocking the intersection at Harvard Avenue and the east entrance of the high school.

Three vehicles were involved in the accident. A sport utility vehicle was on its top just inside the school parking lot and a third vehicle was also in the intersection.

Go to Tripcheck.com for road updates. The I-5 offramp may be closed for several hours.

(Check back as we continue to update this story.)


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The News-Review Updated Apr 9, 2014 03:18PM Published Apr 11, 2014 09:18AM Copyright 2014 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.