Driver dies, passenger injured after fiery Illinois Valley crash

One person is dead and another seriously injured after a single-vehicle crash east of O'Brien in the early hours of Friday morning.

Posted: Sep 27, 2019 10:02 AM
Updated: Sep 27, 2019 4:10 PM


UPDATE: Oregon State Police has identified the driver killed in Friday morning's crash as 30-year-old Benjamin Upshaw of Corpus Christi, Texas.

(Updated 9/27/19 at 4 p.m.)

INITIAL REPORT: One person is dead and another seriously injured after a single-vehicle crash east of O'Brien in the early hours of Friday morning, according to Oregon State Police (OSP).

Troopers and emergency crews responded to reports of the crash just after 1:30 a.m. at the intersection of Waldo Road and Rockydale Road. Investigators determined that the driver of a 2016 Subaru was heading eastbound on Rockydale when they crossed Waldo without stopping and smashed into an embankment, sparking a fire.

"A passerby removed the driver and passenger from the vehicle prior to it becoming fully engulfed," OSP said.

Illinois Valley Fire District (IVFD) said that the vehicle was on fire when firefighters arrived.

The driver was pronounced dead at the scene. One passenger, identified as 31-year-old Jameson Eckert of Cave Junction, was brought to Three Rivers Medical Center in Grants Pass with serious injuries. OSP said that it will identify the driver once next of kin has been notified.

Illinois Valley CERT kept the intersection closed down for about four hours, IVFD said.

In an apparent response to the crash and similar deadly incidents in the past months in years, outgoing IVFD Fire Chief Dennis Hoke posted an editorial urging the community to take charge of the situation and fund a greater law enforcement presence at night. He said there was "no doubt" that drugs and alcohol contributed to this most recent crash.

"Over the seven years that I have been IVFD Fire Chief I have seen so many lives and families destroyed over drugs, alcohol and stupid decisions. Why are we as a community accepting this as the new normal?" Chief Hoke said.

The full post may be read below.

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