Officials in Clackamas County say a highway worker was hit and
killed by a drunk driver, and now they're searching for witnesses to the crash.
It happened Tuesday night on South New Era Road near South Haines
Road in Canby.
Investigators tell FOX 12 that 48-year-old Greg Priest, of Salem,
was killed while trying to put up signs to warn drivers about some construction
on the road.
"He was a family person, good, hard worker," said longtime friend Riley Blystone. "He's all around a good person."
Blystone, who has known Priest since childhood, was also working
on the same project Tuesday night, about 500 yards away.
"I was probably the last person to talk to him,"said Blystone who
was positioned up the road, directing traffic when the crash happened. He said
another driver stopped to tell him what had happened.
"At that time, I didn't really believe it," said Blystone. "The only thing I was hoping is he was still
Firefighters tried to resuscitate Priest after the crash,
investigators said. He was flown to Legacy Emanuel Hospital and was pronounced
dead a short time later.
The driver accused of causing the crash, Bruce Dancer, of Aurora,
has been arrested and charged with DUII. He was one of several people to call
911, investigators said.
Sheriff's investigators said additional charges could be filed, as
the investigation continues.
"He took somebody that everybody cared about," said Blystone.
Friends said Greg Priest always gave 110% on the job and watched
out for others. Fox 12 interviewed Priest in 1998, after he tried to save two
men killed in a helicopter crash in Marion County.
More than ten years later, Priest's loved ones are grieving and
struggling with the loss of a dear friend, co-worker and father of a son who just turned age 6,
according to friends.
"I'm thinking about his kid, his family, what they have to be
going through," said Blystone. "He's
going to miss his little boy."
Priest's employer, Knife River Co., issued a statement Wednesday,
saying Priest's death is "devastating" to the company.
"This is a tragic reminder to drivers to slow down and pay
extra attention in construction zones for their own safety and the well-being
of the men and women who are working there," said Brian Gray, the
company's president of operations in Oregon. "Safety is more important to
us than any job."
Grief counselors were made available to other construction
workers, the company said, and the crew stopped its work on the Highway 99E
paving project for Wednesday.
Investigators aren't sure if there were any witnesses to this
crash, so they're asking anyone who was in the area at the time to call the
Clackamas County Sheriff's Office confidential Tip Line at 503-723-4949.
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