Damage to fire district's 2005 Chevy pickup estimated at $8,869

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - CRF&R Division Chief Eric Smythe, who is in charge of the fire district's emergency medical services and training division, stands alongside the agency's 2005 Chevy pickup that rolled over after hitting a section of corrugated gravel on Bishop Road. Columbia River Fire & Rescue’s two division chiefs were involved in two separate motor vehicle incidents in May, including a rollover crash.

Division Chief Eric Smythe, who leads the agency’s emergency medical services and training division, on Memorial Day, May 26, crashed CRF&R’s 2005 Chevy pickup on Bishop Road when he hit a patch of corrugated gravel as he was responding to the scene of a motor vehicle crash, Chief Jay Tappan said.

Earlier, on May 5, longtime Division Chief Ron Youngberg was involved in an on-the-job crash involving an Oregon State Police patrol vehicle.

by: PHOTO COURTESY OF COLUMBIA RIVER FIRE & RESCUE - Eric Smythe.Tappan said road conditions contributed to Smythe’s crash.

“It was one of those sharp turns and then it was wash-boarded,” Tappan said of the gravel road’s conditions.

Damage to the pickup was assessed at $8,869, Tappan said. The agency’s insurance carrier, Special Districts Association of Oregon, is expected to cover repair of the vehicle following the fire district’s payment of a $2,500 deductible, he added.

Tappan said his agency conducted an investigation into the crash and determined Smythe had been driving too fast for road conditions. Smythe has since been directed to take an online driver’s safety course, Tappan said.

At 5:22 p.m., Smythe and his wife, Laura Smythe, were responding in the pickup to the scene of a crash on Nicolai Cutoff Road south of Rainier, Tappan said. Laura Smythe is a nursing student and is cleared to ride along with CRF&R personnel on emergency calls, Tappan explained.

“I know that sounds bad, but she is a bona fide nursing student and she is cleared for ride-alongs,” Tappan said.

Tappan said the pickup tipped over slowly after Eric Smythe hit the rough patch. He added that Eric Smythe was the backup officer and that response to the crash on Nicolai Cutoff Road was not hampered.

“There was no delay on the response,” he said, adding, “The good news is, nobody was injured.”

Smythe is a recent hire at the fire district. He joined CRF&R as a division chief in January.

by: PHOTO COURTESY OF COLUMBIA RIVER FIRE & RESCUE - Ron Youngberg.Youngberg’s crash occurred during his response to an injury crash at Bennett Road and Highway 30.

After arriving at the crash scene at approximately 1:18 p.m., Youngberg reportedly left the transmission of the 2002 Chevy Suburban he was driving in the “drive” position and jumped out of the vehicle to assist at the scene.

The SUV then did a “slow creep,” Tappan said, into the side of an Oregon State Police patrol cruiser.

Tappan said OSP personnel spoke with Youngberg a week following the incident, though CRF&R has not received an insurance claim on the crash.

“We have not received any claims or anything like that,” he said. “There’s probably going to be something.”

When contacted May 29, OSP Sgt. Yvette Shephard at the St. Helens worksite said no such incident occurred, though a trooper at the worksite had earlier reported knowledge of the collision.

Shephard did not return a follow-up phone call for comment.

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