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Tow truck driver killed after crash on Interstate 5

A Roseburg tow truck driver was killed Wednesday night while working on Interstate 5, according to state police.

Just before 11 p.m. Henry Alan Lichtwald, 63, of Roseburg, an employee of Walt’s Tow Company, was responding to a crash on the highway. While attempting to clear an earlier crash on the southbound lanes of the freeway near milepost 126, a commercial motor vehicle collided with Lichtwald and his tow truck. Lichtwald died at the scene.

The driver of the tractor-trailer, Jagraj Singh Sidhu, 54, of Abbotsford, British Columbia, immediately pulled over and cooperated with the investigation, according to police.

The freeway was closed for a little more than an hour and later was restricted to one lane for another three to four hours to clear the scene and investigate the crash.

The Oregon State Police was assisted by Bill’s Towing, A&S Towing, the Oregon Department of Transportation, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Roseburg Police Department, Roseburg Fire Department and Douglas County Fire District No. 2.

Kruse Farms to close, up for sale

This could be the last season for the Kruse Farms produce market west of Roseburg.

Owner Jeff Kruse confirmed Wednesday that the family plans to sell the market and the 98 acres where the produce is grown.

The family had thought they had a buyer for the property, Kruse said, but it appears the sale has fallen through.

He said the farm will likely be relisted for sale within the next couple of weeks.

The market typically closes for the season in early January, and the Kruses do not plan to reopen it after that. Whether the market will open for business again next season depends on what the property’s next owners want to do with it.

The market was first opened 27 years ago.

“I don’t know where the time went, but nothing lives forever,” Kruse said.

Kruse, 70, has been working on the farm for 65 years. At 5 years old, he started working on a tractor, he said.

“My dad wired wood blocks to the pedals so I could reach them,” he said.

His grandfather, Herbert Bertram Kruse, bought the first 15 acres of the farm in 1923.

“I’m lucky in so many ways. A lot of people don’t have nuclear families. Until I was in my early teens, I actually had great grandparents that were in the neighborhood, so I’ve seen a few generations here,” he said.

“Now it’s my turn to be the old guy,” he said.

Kruse said he’s ready to retire. He’d like to travel. He visited 30 states while serving in the state legislature, but never really got to visit any of the interesting parts of those states, he said.

Once, he drove to Phoenix on a work trip. On the drive, he was at one point a half-hour away from the Grand Canyon and didn’t have time to go there.

“There’s some amazing things in this country, and I’d just like to see some of them,” he said.

The Grand Canyon is near the top of his list for travel now, he said, though his first trip will be to the deserts and mountains of Arizona and New Mexico.

“I’ve spent my whole life doing what needed to be done, and maybe now’s the time to just do what I want to do,” he said.

Kruse said his nephew Evan Kruse wants to retain part of the farm for growing grass seed and alfalfa but isn’t interested in running the market.

Jeff Kruse said he plans to continue living in his current home, which is along the North Umpqua River on a part of the farm that won’t be sold.

He said additional pieces of property owned by the family may also be sold in the future, but it will be done in phases.

Man claims some residents of Roseburg Rescue Mission are COVID-positive but not quarantined

A man living at the Roseburg Rescue Mission is alleging that some of the shelter’s residents have recently tested positive for COVID-19 but have continued to live their daily lives rather than serve the ordered 14-day quarantine for those with positive tests.

Mark VanDeWalker, 59, lives at the shelter and is responsible for the laundry for its residents. He told The News-Review last week that he knew of at least four of the shelter’s residents who were “sick” with the coronavirus, yet still allowed to perform their daily tasks as a condition of staying at the mission. Some of those tasks involve direct contact with the public.

“I have my shots, but some of them in there refuse to,” VanDeWalker said. “It’s messed up.”

VanDeWalker said his responsibilities at the shelter include entering the rooms of who he said are positive for COVID-19 and gathering all of their laundry.

“I don’t have a (hazardous materials) suit,” VanDeWalker said. “There are sick people there. I’m not sick, but I should be able to have a temporary place to live, and I’m not going to live under a pine tree with people crapping behind me.”

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, the Roseburg Rescue Mission has never been placed on the Oregon Health Authority’s active outbreak list for senior living, assisted living or congregate living facilities.

Lynn Antis, executive director of the shelter, told The News-Review this week he did not have any information as to whether some people staying at the mission had tested positive for COVID-19.

An acquaintance of VanDeWalker, who asked to not be identified, echoed VanDeWalker’s claim.

“The people in charge don’t seem to know what to do,” the person said. “Nobody seems to know what’s going on from day to day. But they sure can kick you out.”