'She had a bright future': Victim in fatal Highway 126 crash remembered

Oregon State Police suspect Shane McVay, the driver of the log truck, was driving under the influence of alcohol.

Posted: Sep 21, 2021 6:52 PM
Updated: Sep 22, 2021 1:52 PM

WALTON, Ore. -- After a devastating and deadly crash involving a logging truck on Highway 126 on Monday, 25-year-old Sarah Susman is being remembered as a bright light in so many lives.

RELATED: WESTERN LANE AMBULANCE DISTRICT EMPLOYEE KILLED IN HIGHWAY 126 CRASH

Family, friends and coworkers describe her as “intelligent” with a “compassionate heart.”

She was a part-time medic with Western Lane Ambulance District, MidValley Ambulance and a volunteer resident for Lowell Fire District.

KEZI 9 News talked to Michael Schick, the Fire and EMS Chief of Western Lane Ambulance District.

“She had a bright future,” Schick said. “I had heard that she wanted to go to medical school, and she had a lot of aptitude for medicine. It’s very sad.”

Schick said Susman was on her way to work for Western Lane Ambulance District, driving on Highway 126. Just a couple minutes behind her was one the district’s paramedics. His trip to work was delayed due to the accident but he was not aware that his coworker -- Susman -- was involved. He offered his help and then continued his drive to work.

“At that point, everyone was saying Sarah hasn’t arrived yet,” Schick said. “He asked what kind of car she drives, and it matched the car he saw in the accident.”

OSP said Shane McVay, 64, of Eugene was driving a Kenworth log truck east when the loaded trailer tipped over. The trailer struck Susman's Toyota Prius, which had been headed west, and a Dodge Ram towing a boat that was driven by a 70-year-old Eugene man. The Dodge then hit an eastbound Ford Mustang driven by a 20-year-old Coquille resident.

Susman was killed in the crash.

On Tuesday KEZI learned that Oregon State Police suspect McVay was driving under the influence of alcohol. OSP also confirmed that the logging truck was owned by Wolf Creek Timber Services of Veneta.

RELATED: ALCOHOL MAY HAVE PLAYED A ROLE IN FATAL LOG TRUCK CRASH ON HIGHWAY 126

Schick said his team was shocked to hear the tragic news, as Susman has made a large impact on everyone there.

“I’m glad she was in our lives for at least a short time,” Schick said.

Florence resident Karin Guy used to drive to Eugene along Highway 126 several times a week.

“It's not the first tragedy on 126,” Guy said. “How many more? A young woman -- 25-- starting her life and innocently driving to work has to lose her life over people going too fast and cutting corners.”

Guy said she rarely sees OSP patrolling the highway and believes that needs to change before even more lives are lost.

“People really need to slow it down,” Guy said.

Guy said ODOT has done a good job of adding passing lanes but people often pass when it’s unsafe.

“It’s so common along 126,” Schick said. “There's a lot of turns. There's people going high rates of speed. We hate to see our loved ones drive along that road. We urge people to be careful, drive cautiously, don't drive angry and just make sure you get there safely.”

Michael Dorman of Lilly Pad Towing shared what he’s noticed on Highway 126 over the years. He said he’s unfortunately not surprised that another tragedy took place, as just months ago a fatal crash occurred right across from his shop.

“Really impatient drivers passing in no-passing areas and speeding -- a lot of it,” Dorman said.

KEZI reached out to Wolf Creek Timber Services of Veneta for comment but has not heard back.

The highway was closed for most of the day while authorities investigated.

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