Crash sends cattle truck sliding off icy Hwy. 97

SUNRIVER – A three-vehicle crash on icy Highway 97 near Sunriver on Tuesday sent a semi trailer carrying 64 head of cattle careening into some trees beside the road, but no injuries were reported, Deschutes County sheriff’s deputies said.

An initial investigation determined that Linda D. Ryburn, 50, of La Pine, lost control of her 1983 Lincoln Continental due to the slick road conditions, around 12:45 p.m. a half-mile south of the Cottonwood Road exit, said sheriff’s Sgt. Shane Nelson. Ryburn’s southbound car slid off the highway on the east side.

A second driver, Larry R. Bradley, 62, also of La Pine, lost control of his 1991 Buick Century in an attempt to avoid hitting Ryburn’s car and slid into the path of the northbound tractor trailer hauling cattle. The 1998 Kenworth semi was operated by Charles F. Hennigar, 24, of Colfax, Wash., Nelson said.

After colliding with the semi, Bradley’s car slid off the road on the west side of Highway 97. The tractor-trailer also went off the west side of the road and crashed into some trees, Nelson said.

The highway was reduced to one lane of traffic for a time, during the removal of the livestock trailer, the sergeant added.

Oregon State Police and Sunriver Fire Department also responded to the scene. OSP reported heavy traffic and icy conditions on Highway 97 from Lava Butte to Sunriver.

In fact, pre-holiday traffic was causing problems over much of the state. Westbound Interstate 84 was shut at Baker City Tuesday evening due to traffic backed up in the La Grande area, the Oregon Department of Transportation reported.

Westbound I-84 from La Grande to Pendleton was closed all day due to crashes and spinouts, and the eastbound lanes were shut for two hours for similar reasons. A major factor was motorists’ failure to properly put on chains or have proper studded tires in the icy conditions.

OSP reminded motorists that they were enforcing chain-up requirements, and violators faced a fine of up to $579.