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Two Women Killed in SUV Rollover Crash on Highway 20


Date: May 27, 2011
Location: Highway 20 near Milepost 263 north of Nyssa
Names: Kayla Gomez, Joanna Chaidez

An early morning single vehicle crash resulted in the deaths of two Ontario women. Oregon State troopers announced that this fatal crash was a sad reminder of the importance of using seatbelts, since both women were not wearing safety restraints.

At about 6:00am a 2001 GMC Jimmy SUV was being driven north by Kayla Gomez, age 23, on Highway 20 near Milepost 263 about two miles north of Nyssa when the vehicle drifted off the highway’s left shoulder. Gomez then over-corrected, according to police investigators, and the vehicle rolled several times causing both female occupants to be ejected. The vehicle came to rest in an irrigation ditch filled with water.

Gomez and her passenger, Joanna Chaidez, age 22, were both pronounced deceased at the scene. Neither of them was wearing a seatbelt.

Oregon State Police Sergeant Jason Reese was quoted as saying “Unbelted or improperly belted occupants are five times more likely to be ejected in a crash than one who is belted. The odds of surviving ejected from a motor vehicle are estimated at one in four.”

We are completely saddened by this tragic Oregon SUV rollover accident, and we know that the families and friends of both women are mourning their deaths at such a young age with their whole futures in front of them. We hope that they know how many people are keeping them in their thoughts and prayers.

When a person tries to correct the wheel while driving, a car should skid, not roll over. It should be very difficult to make a car roll over. However, it’s an unfortunate truth that there are some models and makes of vehicles that roll over very easily. These makes and models are well known and there have been successful lawsuits against the companies who build, sell and profit from these vehicles. When a vehicle rolls over it may be entirely driver error or it may be partially driver error and partially poor design. The difference is that the driver error is to be expected. We all know that drivers sometimes make errors and sometimes a quick correction is necessary, for example, when a deer runs in the road or even a cow. A driver should be able to jerk the wheel, make a sudden maneuver around an obstacle or to correct a drift without the car flipping over and killing everyone inside it.

In addition to being more stable and less likely to roll over, a car should be designed so that if it does roll over, there is enough strength and stability in the roof that the people inside don’t get crushed. Whenever there’s a rollover crash like this one causing serious injury or even death it may be easy to blame the driver. But there is another very important factor. And that is the companies who are making this car who know very well that the car is dangerous but who do nothing to correct it because it would cut into their bottom line.

We have knowledgeable Portland car accident attorneys who can launch an investigation and put your questions to rest.