Truck Driver Killed While Chaining up Tiresby Jana Ritter - Published: 2/01/2016
A truck driver was struck and killed by a motorist on Sunday morning while he was placing chains on his tractor-trailer’s tires along Interstate 84 in eastern Oregon. The tragic accident occurred less than two weeks after the Oregon Department of Transportation issued a press release reminding truck drivers to use the designated chain up areas, which have wider shoulders, signs and overhead lights.
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At about 8:30 am, 50 year-old Igor S. Nikolaychuk of Vancouver, Washington had stopped on the shoulder of the westbound side of the interstate near Milepost 281, close to the town of North Powder. As he was in the process of chaining up the trailer’s left rear axle, a 2007 Cadillac, also traveling westbound, lost control on the slick highway and began to slide. According to the Oregon State Police, the car’s front bumper struck Nikolaychuk and the impact from the Cadillac pushed Nikolaychuk underneath the trailer. Police say he was pronounced dead at the scene.
While the accident is still under investigation, police have confirmed the identity of the Cadillac’s driver as 21-year-old Mckenna Hamilton of Star, Idaho. It was also confirmed that she was wearing her seat belt and that her air bag deployed upon the impact. Police also said that the road conditions were icy at the time of the crash, and that the foggy weather had reduced visibility to about a quarter-mile. Sam Martin, chief of the North Powder Rural Fire Department, also responded to scene Sunday morning and said that Nikolaychuk’s truck was parked behind a line of trucks that extended for about two miles. It’s exactly the situation ODOT has been hoping to avoid and the reason for creating several chain up areas over the last decade. In fact, one of those chain up areas is located a mile up the road from where Nikolaychuk was killed.
On January 19, ODOT District 13 Manager Ace Clark had issued a press release reminding truck drivers to use the designated chain up area. “During a recent storm event when chains were required there were two miles of trucks parked along the shoulder and in the travel lanes, while a designated chain up area directly ahead of them sat nearly empty,” said Clark. “By not using the chain up areas, vehicles are blocking traffic and creating a safety hazard. We have already had a couple crashes and road closures this winter due to trucks stopping in travel lanes to install chains or pulling out in front of traffic. Being out of your vehicle on the ground performing chain operations adjacent to traffic moving on slick roadways is dangerous enough. Please use the designated chain up areas when they are available.”