News staff writer
Hood River County emergency responders were called Jan. 5 to the scene of the second fatal traffic accident within a one week.
The third death from a crash on slick roadways has led Hood River Sheriff Joe Wampler to issue a safety alert.
"Motorists need to slow down and take extra precautions when traveling near the Gorge during the winter season," said Wampler. "Drivers shouldn't get overconfident and should always plan ahead by carrying traction devices that not only will prevent damage to their vehicle but quite possibly save a life."
According to Oregon State Police reports, the female passenger of a Toyota Tercel was killed about 12:30 p.m. on Jan. 5 after the vehicle slid broadside into a southbound Ford pickup near milepost 64 on Highway 35.
Yvette Barhishindi Mubalama, 28, of Portland was pronounced dead at the scene and the driver of the Toyota, Luvumbu Ndongala Hassan, 33, of Portland was Lifeflighted to Emanuel Hospital in Portland for treatment of head injuries.
The operator of the Ford pickup, Darryl Brian Barton, 31, of Hood River, and his three passengers were uninjured from the impact.
The crash is being investigated by the OSP office in The Dalles and alcohol has been ruled out as a contributing factor. The accident reportedly occurred when Hassan lost control of his vehicle while negotiating a curve on pavement that was wet with patches of slush.
On New Year's Eve, an icy roadway led to two deaths along Interstate 84 near Cascade Locks. After helping the victim in a roll-over accident shortly before 10 p.m. on Dec. 31, Kevin R. Fitzsimmons, 28, of Kent. Wash., was struck and killed by another vehicle which slid off the freeway. The man he had been helping, Hector Manuel Virgen Orozco, 32, of Hood River, was also killed by the same truck after emerging unscathed from his earlier wreck.
Wampler said many times the pavement over the majority of the highway will be dry but, if the temperature is colder, moisture trapped between concrete slabs near an overpass or bridge can freeze up and become very slippery. He said motorists approaching those areas should proceed with extra caution.