Drunken Driving Crash Left 2 Multnomah County Sheriff’s Officers Dead

Multnomah County sheriff’s reserve Sgt. Scott Collins and reserve Deputy Mark Whitehead were both killed in a horrific drunken driving crash that took place on Interstate 84 more than 21 years ago. The loss of the two officers is not forgotten at the sheriff’s office even after all these years.

A ceremony will be held on Thursday at Fairview City Hall around 1:30 p.m. to honor the two officers. The sheriff’s officials will unveil a roadside memorial sign at the event to remember them. Roadside memorial signs on state highways are part of a law passed by the Oregon Legislature in 2011 to honor police officers killed in the line of duty.

Both Whitehead and Collins were reserve deputies. They were volunteers who performed a variety of support tasks including transporting prisoners, responding as back-up units along with performing other duties. Reserve deputies are also qualified to carry weapons. A lot of them eventually become full-time officers.

According to Lt. Brent Ritchie of the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, the sign will be installed along the freeway where Collins and Whitehead died in the next two weeks. It has been created with private money by the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Ritchie remembers the incident when the officers died as he was new to the office at the time. “You never fully forget something like this. I think this is a wonderful way to honor their memory,” he said.

The horrific incident took place on the evening of 26 February, 1993, when Collins and Whitehead were on their way back east to the sheriff office in Wood Village after dropping off a prisoner at the Justice Center Jail in downtown Portland.

Just before the 207th Avenue exit, a westbound vehicle being driven by 50-year-old Erin Vandervoort, travelling at an estimated speed of 90 mph, lost control and flew into the eastbound lanes, shearing off the top of the patrol car with its undercarriage. Both officers in the patrol car died instantly. According to a witness, there was a bright flash, and it seemed as if a bomb had exploded beneath the patrol car.

Vandervoort was driving under the influence of alcohol. His blood alcohol level came out to be 0.15, almost twice the legal limit. He also died in the crash.

News Source: www.OregonLive.com

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John Reade

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