Crash At memorial ceremony highlights dangers of distracted driving

Sep 1, 2011

JEFFERSON, Ore. - Two Oregon police officers killed along Interstate 5 by a drowsy driver ten years ago were honored with a memorial sign along the highway where they died. But in an ironic twist, people attending the ceremony got a vivid demonstration of the dangers of distracted driving.

As people gathered along a frontage road for a ceremony to mark the unveiling of the new memorial sign, a driver on I-5 rear-ended another vehicle that had slowed. Police and paramedics immediately sprang over a fence and assisted the motorists, who suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

An Oregon state police spokesman says motorists approaching the memorial site were given adequate warning of the potential for slowed traffic. But family members who had gathered for the event were shaken by the eerie coincidence.

"It rattled us. It rattled us," said Theresa Heyn, the twin sister of one of the officers who died, Maria Mignano.

She said she and other relatives of the fallen cops decided to go on with the ceremony nonetheless.

"We felt it was fitting to honor them," Heyn said.

The other officer killed in the 2001 accident was Jason Hoerauf. State Police Sergeant John Burright was severely disabled in the collision, which was caused by a 19-year-old driver who fell asleep at the wheel.

Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network

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