HERMISTON - Despite extensive efforts from aid workers and a passer-by, a 36-year-old Irrigon woman died Wednesday afternoon after a gravel truck slammed into the side of the sedan she was driving, pushing it into an irrigation ditch and pinning her under the truck.
Numerous agencies responded to the call at the intersection of Westland Road and Stable Lane near the freeway and worked for more than an hour to keep Andrea Kristen Waelty alive and get her out of the wreckage.
Her 2003 Nissan Altima came to rest in more than three feet of water.
Emergency personnel planned to meet a helicopter at Good Shepherd Medical Center to transport her to a larger hospital, but she died on the way to Good Shepherd, Hermiston Assistant Fire Chief Steve Frazier said.
The driver of the Umatilla County-owned gravel truck, Rick Calvert, said the woman driving the Nissan Altima did not see him rounding the bend when she left Stable Lane.
A row of trees obscures part of the view of cars entering Westland Road at that intersection, he said.
"There was not much time to react," said Calvert, 50, who was not injured. "I tried to veer around, but she gunned it."
The initial investigation concluded that the truck driver, who has worked for the county for at least 25 years, was not at fault.
"At this point, it appears the victim failed to yield to the gravel truck and was struck broadside," said Lt. Glen Diehl of the Umatilla County Sheriff's Office.
He said Calvert will not be charged or cited.
Immediately after the impact, Dan Swart of Umatilla, who was driving another gravel truck, rushed to the smashed car and began giving first aid to the woman. She had stopped breathing, he said, and he began trying to administer mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
"I had to find out who she was, if she was alive," Swart said.
Most of the Waelty's body was trapped under the tractor, which Diehl said weighed about 75,000 pounds.
Swart and emergency personnel were able to get her breathing. Firefighters used saws and pneumatic scissors to cut the roof off the car to remove the woman.
Diehl said deputies told him Waelty was "just on her way home for lunch."
"It's an unfortunate situation, very sad," Diehl said.
In addition to about 22 Hermiston Fire and Emergency Service personnel and the Umatilla County Sheriff's Office on-scene, six members of the Umatilla Chemical Depot Fire Department responded as well as members of the Stanfield Fire Department, who were in Hermiston for training when the call came in at about 11:30 a.m.
"That's one of those 'everybody incidents,'" Stanfield Fire Chief Jim Whalen said.
EO reporter Casey White contributed to this story.