I-5 crash a close call

An Oregon State Police trooper escaped serious injury when his patrol car crashed into the back of a semitrailer that pulled in front of him as he chased a speeding driver near Ashland early Monday.

At 12:26 a.m., trooper Chris Walker, 34, from the Central Point office, was chasing a vehicle that he had observed driving 97 mph northbound on Interstate 5 near milepost 15, an OSP news release reported. He was in the left north lane negotiating a left curve when a 2006 Volvo commercial truck towing a semitrailer moved from the right lane to the left lane in front of the patrol car.

Walker hit the brakes, slowing to about 65 mph before his patrol car crashed into the back of the semitrailer and became lodged underneath it.

The truck's driver, Stanley Scott Leland, 53, from Florida, reported feeling a jolt and then noticing a car lodged under the back of his trailer. Leland pulled over to the right shoulder and stopped, but not before dragging the patrol car about 2,100 feet.

Walker was using safety restraints and received a minor injury but was not transported to a hospital for treatment. He was set to return to work Monday night to write reports and do administrative tasks at the Central Point office, OSP Sgt. Mark rd said.

Leland and a co-driver in the truck's sleeper berth at the time of the crash were uninjured.

rd was working at a traffic stop in the southbound lanes of I-5 just south of Medford at the time of the crash. He had called for backup when he discovered the people in the car he had stopped were wanted on out-of-state warrants. When rd heard a vehicle speed by in the northbound lanes, he at first thought it was Walker rushing to his aid and went to his radio to tell Walker to slow down as he had discovered the warrants weren't extraditable and he wouldn't be making any arrests.

Then rd heard that Walker had been in a serious crash, so instead of chasing the northbound speeder, he finished his stop and hurried to the crash scene.

The Jackson County Sheriff's Office is investigating the collision and no information on whether either driver was cited was available late Monday. Ashland police also responded to the crash.

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