Car seen leaving rest area prior to fatal crash

It may have been involved in wrong-way collision

By Emily Gillespie, Columbian Breaking News Reporter

Published:

 

A vehicle that may have been involved in a fatal wrong-way crash on Interstate 5 last month was seen leaving the Gee Creek Rest Area by witnesses on the day of the crash, according to Washington State Patrol.

Two people at the rest area reported seeing a white car driving the wrong direction out of the truck parking section of the rest stop, south of Ridgefield, according to Trooper Will Finn.

The witnesses told investigators that they thought the driver, whom they described as an elderly man wearing glasses, was backtracking so he could leave the large-vehicle parking area and enter the car parking area.

One of the two witnesses, neither of whom were named by state patrol, reportedly said: “We noticed a white car coming in, it passed us, then turned around and went back out the same way he came in.”

The vehicle is possibly the one driven by Gage Musgrave, 84, of Vancouver, Finn said.

Neither witness saw where the white car went next, Finn said, adding that the investigation is ongoing. Troopers have not yet said where Musgrave entered the highway, but the witness statements are the latest development in the investigation, Finn said.

Troopers said Musgrave was driving a white, 2005 Toyota Avalon south in the northbound lanes of I-5 at about 2 p.m. Feb. 28 when his car struck a 2008 Nissan Altima near the freeway’s exit for Battle Ground. Musgrave died on March 11 from health issues that resulted from his injuries in the collision, Finn said.

Ericka Gorremans, 32, of La Center was driving the Nissan struck by Musgrave’s vehicle. Gorremans was traveling with her 10-year-old son, Clayton, and her 6-year-old nephew, Henry Babitzke. Henry died in the crash. Gorremans and Clayton were rushed to the hospital with critical injuries and have since been released, said Gail Miller, a friend of the family.

“They are so excited to be home, but know they have a long road to recovery,” Miller wrote on a fundraising Web page set up to help cover their medical bills. “Ericka may be in a wheelchair for up to a year while her crushed pelvis heals.”

Those interested in donating money to Gorremans and her son can visit youcaring.com and search for the Gorremans Family Medical Fund.

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