Skip to Content

‘Left a hole that can’t be replaced’: Sister of La Pine teaching assistant aide killed in Hwy. 97 crash wants tougher speed limits for trucks

(Update: adding video, comments from Elaine Medley, twin sister of Elise Farrens)

Comments by her twin sister, 'devastated by loss: 'I am living a nightmare'

La PINE, Ore. (KTVZ) – The shocked, grieving twin sister of a La Pine-area teaching assistant killed in a semi-SUV crash on icy Highway 97 last week that also claimed her unborn granddaughter called Monday for tougher speed limits and regulations to curb speeding or reckless driving by semi drivers.

The crash that killed Honda Pilot driver Elise Adair Farrens, 37, occurred around 10 a.m. last Thursday near milepost 174, about five miles south of La Pine in northern Klamath County, when their SUV collided with a jackknifed semi-truck, Oregon State Police said..

"My sister was just on her way to take care of family like she does every day. and and instead, her family's left with so much lost and a hole that can't be replaced," Elaine Medley said Monday. "I'm not processing, I' m devastated  because I feel like this could have been extremely avoided."

Troopers said their preliminary investigation found that a 34-year-old St. Petersburg, Florida woman was driving a Peterbilt commercial motor vehicle and trailer when she lost control and the truck jackknifed in the road, spun and crossed into the path of the northbound SUV, which struck the trailer.

Farrens was declared deceased at the scene, OSP said. Her daughter, passenger Daviana Marie Trussell, 23 of La Pine, was taken to St. Charles Bend with critical injuries, but a hospital spokeswoman said late Friday afternoon that she had improved to fair condition.

 “Trussell, who was pregnant, tragically suffered the loss of her child due to injuries sustained during the crash,” the OSP said in their news release. She was treated at St. Charles Bend for a fractured pelvis as well as spinal injuries in more than five hours of surgery.

"She was 26 weeks pregnant," Medley said. "They were excited first-time parents, and now she'll never be able to be a parent again because of this accident."

The semi driver reportedly suffered minor injuries in the crash, which closed Highway 97 for about 3 ½ hours and restricted traffic for several more hours.

OSP said its investigation was ongoing and that they were assisted at the scene by the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, Crescent Fire and ODOT.

“I am living a nightmare,” Medley told NewsChannel 21. “She was everything to me. She was my twin. My whole life was shattered in an instant. Nothing I can do will ever bring her back.”

Medley said her sister, who also leaves behind a 19-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter, had called her Thursday morning and “told me the roads were bad. She was worried about my 16-year-old son.” She said she learned her sister tried to avoid being struck and had pulled off to the shoulder but could not avoid the collision.

Medley said her sister worked with Life Skills students at Rosland Elementary. Bend-La Pine Schools spokesman Scott Maben said Farrens was an educational assistant at Rosland Elementary in La Pine, after two years as an EA at Mountain View High School. Counselors were available Friday at both schools for anyone who wished to meet with them.

Medley was devastated by the loss, saying Farrens touched everyone she knew. On Saturday, Medley visited some of the students Elise worked with.

"She loved the kids," Medley said. "It was very surreal, the impact that she had on those students. And it was very hard, because I had to sit there and listen to them say, 'You sound like her, you look like her, I find comfort in your face and voice.' And it's torture."

Medley also said she was told by authorities that the truck driver was speeding for the conditions and could face criminal charges. No charges have been filed as of yet. New Klamath County District Attorney David Schutt told NewsChannel 21 he was called shortly after the crash and has been involved in the investigation.

"These investigations do take some time," Schutt said. "The crash reconstruction process is thorough and time-consuming."

Whatever the outcome, the twin sister said she wants more done to stop truck drivers from going too fast when conditions warrant slowing down. “They drive too fast and don’t chain up when they are supposed to,” she said. “They think they are invincible and don’t realize the damage they leave behind."

Medley said she also wonders about the extent of training out-of-state truck drivers have before hitting the road.

"I want some reform on this highway," she said. "The trucker that hit her was from out of state, long-haul. There is no reason. We were in a weather warning, it was icy." 

“Why are they in that much of a hurry? My whole life was shattered in an instant. Nothing I can do will ever bring her back.”

"What I'd like to see is maybe a sign up, 'Slow Down, Saves Lives: In Memory of Elise Farrens.' I think that would be huge for the community and this county," Medley said.

A fundraising page has been set up for the family to help with funeral and medical expense

It was one of numerous crashes around the region in recent snowy, icy weather. One of several Friday on Century Drive, the road to Mt. Bachelor, struck a Deschutes County sheriff's deputy's patrol car.

Article Topic Follows: Accidents and Crashes

Jump to comments ↓

Author Profile Photo

Matthew Draxton

Matthew Draxton is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Matthew here.

Author Profile Photo

Barney Lerten

Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content