Four die in car-train collision
Icy road conditions blamedIcy road conditions were the apparent cause of an early morning car and train collision near Culver, which took the lives of a mother and three children.
Killed at the scene were Sandy Roe, and children Jason, 15, Tina, 14, and Devon, 6. Another son, Ethan, 10, was taken to Central Oregon District Hospital in Redmond with injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening, according to Jefferson County Sheriff Jack Jones.
From information provided by a witness in the car behind the Roes', Jones related what apparently happened. "She was headed with the kids to school. The witness didn't report any excessive speed. She tried to brake and stop and slid into the path of the train," he said.
The accident occurred at 7:25 a.m., where the Burlington Northern railroad tracks intersect with Feather Lane, north of Culver. The roads were extremely slick that morning from frozen rain.
Adding to the tragedy was the fact that the first rescue person to respond was Steve Roe, a volunteer captain with the Culver Fire Department, and husband and father of the accident victims.
"He was the first responder on the scene, and it was a very difficult scene," Sheriff Jones related.
Culver Supt. Mike Funderberg said many students and staff were traumatized Wednesday morning to learn of the deaths of three classmates and their mother, who worked as an educational assistant for Culver's Special Ed. program.
Funderberg said the Jefferson County Crisis Team was called out to the school as well as local pastors, and safe rooms were set up for students needing counseling. A room was also provided where teachers could take a break to deal with grief as needed.
Commenting on the reaction of students, Funderberg said, "Everybody handles tragedy differently. For first-graders who were classmates of Devon, death is a foreign concept. But a lot of parents came and took their first-graders home. The older students wanted to talk about it a little bit."
A "Roe Family Memorial Fund has been set up at Columbia River Bank for anyone wanting to donate to help the family with expenses.