Van passing one truck hits another head-on, killing eight

| 8/27/2003

A van attempting to pass a semi along a double yellow line crashed into an oncoming tractor-trailer, killing eight firefighters in the van who were returning from battling a wildfire, The Associated Press reported Aug. 24.

Two people were injured in the oncoming truck, operated by Phoenix-based Swift Transportation Co.

Six of the eight dead were from the small town of Roseburg, OR, according to televised reports, and all but one of them were under 27 years of age. Law-enforcement officials told The AP the crash occurred about 15 miles west of the town of Vale. The area rests along the eastern border of the state, close to Idaho.

The van attempted to pass the other truck along a curved section of the highway with a double yellow line. After the wreck, The AP said, both the van and the truck cab were destroyed.

“After this, does anyone honestly think it’s a good idea to have split speed limits that promote and encourage vehicles to pass more often,” Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said. “It’s never in the interest of highway safety to have different vehicles traveling at different speeds, regardless.”