Pickup rear-ends parked semi-trailer on Hwy 500 near I-5 NB exit; driver to be cited for DUI

Trucker to be cited for negligent driving, says WSP

By John Branton, Columbian Staff Reporter

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A pickup driver was taken to a hospital Thursday night after he crashed into the rear of a parked semi-trailer loaded with large concrete median barriers on state Highway 500.

Vancouver firefighters were called to the highway’s eastbound lanes just past the Interstate 5 northbound exit at 7:55 p.m., said Firefighter-paramedic Kevin Stromberg.

The loaded semi-trailer had been parked on the right side shoulder, and the driver of a 2005 Ford F-150 pickup slammed into its rear at high speed. The pickup then spun around, its front passenger area demolished and its driver door twisted shut.

Firefighters told police to block all eastbound lanes for their own safety They used heavy hydraulic tools to remove the driver door and freed the driver. If he’d had a front seat passenger, that person likely would have been killed, Stromberg said.

The driver appeared to have only minor injuries but AMR ambulance paramedics took him to a hospital to be checked because of the high-speed impact.

Washington State Patrol Trooper Richard Bettger said later that, after an investigation, he will mail a ticket to the pickup driver, Randy L. Ridenhour, 55, of Vancouver for alleged DUI and driving on an improved shoulder.

Ridenhour was taken to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center for lacerations and bruises to his arms and a check for possible other injuries, the trooper said.

Trooper Bettger said signs where the accident occurred warned drivers that the speed limit slowed from 60 mph to 45 mph, that the right lane ahead was closed and that they drivers must merge left.

Bettger said he also will mail a ticket to the semi-trailer driver, Ferron S. Pope, 42, of Dallas, Ore., for second-degree negligent driving.

With his load of concrete barriers to be used nearby in the construction zone, Pope had parked his truck with its left wheels on the fogline and he could have pulled over farther to the right. Pope said he'd been parked there about 20 minutes.

Pope, who was sitting in his tractor's cabin when it was rear-ended, also failed to get out and put a warning triangle behind his trailer, Bettger said.

Since the two improper parking violations led to a collision, the second-degree negligent driving was justified, the trooper said.

Second-degree negligent driving is used when a person is not impaired. If impaired, it becomes more serious first-degree negligent driving.

John Branton: 360-735-4513 or john.branton@columbian.com.