21-year-old died in Hwy. 97 head-on crash near Terrebonne Monday evening
(Update: adding videos, comments from family, ODOT)
TERREBONNE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The grieving family of a Terrebonne man killed in a head-on crash on Highway 97 told NewsChannel 21 Wednesday they want the Oregon Department of Transportation to improve safety on that stretch of road, to spare other families similar tragedies in the future.
“This is me and Beau at an air show,” said Alicia Anderson, struggling to hold back tears as she looked at a printed-out picture of her 21-year-old son, Beauden Yetter. “I’ll never get to go to another air show with him again.”
On Monday night, Yetter was on his way to work at Home Depot. He was driving south on Highway 97, about two miles south of Terrebonne, when his car crossed into the northbound lane, colliding with a Chevy Suburban shortly before 9 p.m.
When first responders arrived on scene, they found one vehicle on its top and the other across the highway, both with major damage.
The driver and passenger of the Chevy Suburban were removed from the wreckage before crews arrived, Oregon State Police said.
The driver was flown by Life Flight helicopter to St. Charles Bend, while the passenger was taken by ambulance to St. Charles Redmond, both with non-life-threatening injuries, officials said.
Yetter, however, died at the scene of the crash, troopers said.
OSP crash reconstruction crews were back on the scene Wednesday. There has been no word about why Yetter's car may have moved into oncoming traffic.
His family, however, said this tragedy could have been avoided. That's why they're calling on ODOT to add safety features like a center median in that area.
"Fix it, do something -- save lives," Alicia said. "If it was their children, if they were talking to a funeral directory on how to bury their child, I guarantee that they would start making a difference."
It’s the same stretch of Highway 97 where another fatal crash happened less than a month ago. On June 12, A Redmond woman was killed and five people were injured, two seriously, in a three-vehicle crash.
In fact, Yetter's family told NewsChannel 21 their son had heard about that fatal crash and was worried about driving that stretch of road, saying, “This is dangerous -- it's scary. Something has to be done.”
Now Beauden is gone, but ODOT told NewsChannel 21 Wednesday it's not on their radar to work in that area.
"That may sound harsh to people who are hearing this, but the point is, you really do have limited resources," ODOT Region 4 spokesman Peter Murphy said. "You have to have a system that allows you to logically and methodically put the best number of resources, the best dollars, in the area that does the most good."
Murphy said there's a ranking system that tells ODOT where the most crashes happen and which sites need the most attention. He said the location of those two recent deadly collisions does not make the list.
Beauden’s mother and his step-father, Duane Anderson, told NewsChannel 21 Wednesday their son was a loving, intelligent and creative young man.
“He gave these hugs that were -- I can’t describe them,” Alicia said.
Duane had shared with friends on Facebook how his eldest stepson had died and "was a wonderful young man. Caring and loving, super-smart and knew more than anyone about WWII aircraft."
"He was taking classes at Western Oregon University to be a software engineer just like me," he wrote. "I'm absolutely heartbroken that I won't be able to mentor him."
After returning home from Western Oregon University in Monmouth due to the pandemic and financial struggles, Beauden's mother said her son decided to turn toward his true calling -- to be a pilot. She said he was in the process of looking at schools to make that dream come true.
Now Beauden’s dream has become his mother’s mission.
"I've decided -- I just came up with this idea this morning that I am going to honor my son by getting my pilot's license,” Alicia said. “So although he won't be able to fly in the sky, I know I will. And I know he'll be with me."
Alicia showed off a tattoo on her back left shoulder of an airplane, with the words, "My Sunshine." Alicia said she would always sing that song to him.
Just two days removed from Monday’s crash, Beauden’s family is still learning how to cope with the loss of their eldest son.
“I have been through some stuff in my life that I’ve had to tell people,” Duane said. “This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through.”
Alicia added, “I just can’t imagine that he’s not going to walk through that door. I keep looking out where he parked his car every single day and expecting it to be there. I keep expecting to hear him shouting at his game, or hear his chair rolling around. But there’s silence from that room now. It’s a void that I don’t know will ever be filled.”
When asked if there will be any ceremony for Beauden, Alicia said, “With my son’s love for airplanes, we are hoping to arrange some sort of a fly-by.”