Oregon cheerleader killed when truck flips

Oregon cheerleader killed when truck flips

Credit: Multnomah County

Oregon cheerleader killed when truck flips

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by By SCOTT BURTON and kgw.com Staff

NWCN.com

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 1:36 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 24 at 3:52 PM

PORTLAND, Ore. - On a gravel driveway just a half mile from the Sandy River along SE Stark Street, car parts litter the tiny pebbles that make up the road.

Leaves and tree branches lay clearly disturbed on a steep embankment. The bark of two large trees hangs from the trunks. A Bic pen and a Sharpie marker lay on the ground below. Dennis Kolbo takes it all in.

"It was just completely tore up. The cab, the front end of it, the transmission and the motor were broke apart," recalls Kolbo.

It was here where 16-year-old Lauren Olson lost her life. A varsity cheerleader at Troutdale's Reynolds High School, Olson was making a drive she had made many times before. It was just after 12:00 p.m. on Friday. Olson and a friend were driving from the main campus of Reynolds to the school's Natural Resources Academy in Springdale.

On a sharp left banking turn Olson lost control of her black Dodge pickup truck. Spray paint left behind by investigators shows a sharp veer off onto the eastbound shoulder. It's followed by a sharp correction into the west bound lane. A few feet later Olson's truck left the roadway and entered the air. The pickup traveled 15 to 20 feet in the air before striking two trees about 9 to 10 feet up from their base. The pickup then flipped, landing upside down on the ground below.

By the time medical personnel arrived Lauren Olson was dead. Using the Jaws of Life, her passenger was pulled to safety and rushed to Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland.

According to Dennis Kolbo, the corner has been a danger for years. Kolbo has lived on SE Stark since the late 70's. He's seen 17 accidents in the exact location where Olson crashed. Some have resulted in loss of life.

"One, two, three deaths right here on this corner," laments Kolbo.

On the campus of Reynolds High School, friends mourn the loss an energetic classmate.

"Lauren was always, like, whenever you were down or anything, she always made your day better. She always made it better," recalls Brandi Butner.

"It's hard to think that somebody who could be so good and so innocent, she had everything going for her. It feels like you're going to come back to school and be like 'Hey Lauren.' But it's not going to happen," says Anthony Soto.

The crash that took Lauren Olson's life and injured her friend is still under investigation. But police believe speed and inexperience played a major role in the outcome. DMV records indicate Olson had been driving less than two years.

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