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Truck driver speaks out about the dangers of driving reckless near an 18-wheeler

Traffic will be down to one lane on I-5 south near exit 45 as crews work to repair the guard rail from Thursday morning's fatal truck crash.

Posted: Sep 12, 2019 6:30 PM

GOLD HILL, Ore. -- The crash happened near Valley of the Rogue State Park near Gold Hill and the Rogue River. The driver of the 18-wheeler was 21-year-old Pavlo Hryzhuk from Citrus Heights, California. He was hauling a truck full of electronics along I-5 in the south bound lanes early Thursday morning. 

Police said he drove over the guard rail, came down a hill and landed on the off-ramp that takes drivers to Valley of the Rogue State Park. Both lanes of Twin Bridges Road were blocked for nine hours as crews worked to clean up debris, investigate the crash and remove the truck from the roadway.

Hryzhuk was pronounced dead when paramedics arrived around 3:30 a.m. OSP is still investigating the cause of this crash, but investigators said they are looking into fatigue as a possible contributing factor. NewsWatch12 spoke with one truck driver who was stopping through the area. Don Wolfe has been driving 18-wheelers for 12 years and he said it takes years to get used to driving for more than 10 hours a day. He said driving between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. is always the hardest.

"There's been a bunch of scientific studies about trying to work and drive and the problem seems to be 2 o'clock in the morning to 6 a.m. because everybody's body clock wants to be asleep," Wolfe said. He said the long hours of driving can make a younger trucker more fatigued because it takes years to get used to the schedule. 

Wolfe wants other drivers on the road to understand how deadly semi-truck can be. He said he wishes there was a way to educate the general public on the dangers and ways to prevent crashes involving semi-trucks.

"All it takes is one second. It doesn't sound like a lot, but 40,000 pounds in the rear of the truck it will do some damage."

Semi-trucks can't stop as quickly as other vehicles, so when drivers cut them off or swerve in front of them it can turn deadly in a matter of seconds.

"We have to make a split-second decision on what we're going to do. Try to avoid the crash with the possibility of what just happened and run off the road," Wolfe said. "Even if you’re a survivor, you’re not going to walk away without a scratch."

Park rangers at Valley of the Rogue State Park said this isn't the first time there's been an crash like this on Twin Bridges Road. NewsWatch12 is working to get more information on the previous Twin Bridges Road crash, but ODOT's representative Gary Leaming, said crashes like this along I-5 are far from uncommon.

ODOT cerews spent the day getting the material and a contractor to fix the damaged guard rail on I-5. Repairs begin Thursday night at 8 p.m. on the the guard rail. Traffic will be down to one lane on I-5 south near exit 45 through the work zone.

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