Log truck accident on Hwy. 30 sparks suit

The pickup truck that held 28-year-old Jeffery Little when it struck the back of a logging truck in August 2008. »Play Video
This is the pickup truck that held 28-year-old Jeffery Little when a log plunged through the window August 2008.

ST. HELENS, Ore. - It has been more than a year since 28-year-old Jeffery Little died on Highway 30. His family doesn't want his memory - or the lessons learned from the crash - to be forgotten.

Warren-resident Little was in a pickup behind a loaded log truck last August. The log truck was turning off Highway 30 onto Old Portland Road near St. Helens. Because it held an extra-long load, the back-end of the logs swung out into traffic.

As the log truck turned, the logs smashed into the pickup - shearing off the pickup's cab and taking Little's life in one fell swoop.

Now, Little's family and friends are going back to where it happened, bringing flowers and demands. They are suing for stronger rules, more signs and a commitment from the state and truckers to keep this from happening again.

"Every day that goes by, and every truck that comes through this intersection, is another opportunity for this to happen again," said Teri Stoffer, the victim's mother, to KATU.

Little's family is filing a lawsuit in Columbia County. The suit demands that the Oregon Department of Transportation enact stronger rules and put up signs that force log trucks, like the one involved in this crash, to use rear pilot cars.

Little's accident was one of three similar crashes at this same intersection in 2008. That prompted some new rules from ODOT, but the Little family says they are too little too late.

ODOT does now require a rear pilot car for all loads that over-hang by 25 feet. However, Little's parents said ODOT's own testing shows loads shorter than that can swing into other lanes.

The family, in a press conference held at the sight Friday, said rear pilot cars should be required for long loads to warn people of the dangers. That's why they are filing their lawsuit in Columbia County.

On Friday, family and friends left flowers at the scene of Little's accident on Highway 30. They're hoping that his memory will live in if their suit prevails in court.

"It breaks my heart at the thought of somebody else having to do this," Little's mother said. "I don't want anybody to have to do what we've done."

What they've done is bury their son.