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Dufur crash under investigation

The Wasco County Sheriff’s Office and Oregon Liquor Control Commission are investigating a crash that seriously injured a 21-year-old Dufur woman early last Saturday.

The woman, who Sheriff Lane Magill did not want to identify, went off the road near the intersection of Dufur Valley Road and Rail Hollow Road.

She was lifeflighted to Yakima, and then flown to Seattle. He did not know the extent of her injuries and family members could not be reached.

The vehicle went into a small creek or ditch, and medical staff found her near the creek, clutching a rock, Magill said. It was not known if she was wearing a seat belt, and her vehicle did not have airbags.

He said the woman was “probably semi-conscious” when aid arrived.

“We’re not sure how she got out of the vehicle. We’re pretty sure she wasn’t ejected,” Magill said.

He said alcohol is believed to be a factor in the crash. “We do have reports that she was at the Dufur Pastime and that she was consuming alcohol there. Investigations for her consumption of alcohol at the Dufur Pastime is still ongoing as well, because we’re still conducting interviews about that.”

Jeff TenEyck was at the Pastime last Friday night and said he met the woman for the first time that night and danced with her for about 30 minutes, as she tried to teach him how to country swing dance.

He said he’d had three drinks himself, and that the woman was “visibly intoxicated.”

Cliff Wirtz, owner of the Pastime, declined to comment.

Magill said he contacted the OLCC about the crash and they are helping with his investigation.

He said once the investigation is complete, all reports will be forwarded to the OLCC and the district attorney’s office.

Last fall, Magill urged the Dufur City Council to deny renewing the liquor license for the Pastime, citing a double fatal crash last July and a series of six other drunk driving arrests dating to 2010 by people who had admitted to drinking at the Pastime.

The OLCC put the re-licensing process on hold while it investigated the matter, and issued a license to the Pastime in February.

Part of the renewal included having required training for staff on over-service of alcohol.

Magill argued the crash and other drunk driving incidents constituted a “serious and persistent history of problems.”

The “serious and persistent history” standard is difficult to meet, and OLCC investigators did not find that the events presented rose to that level, said OLCC spokesperson Christie Scott earlier.

Magill said the OLCC told him in February to forward any new incidents to the liquor commission.

“Dufur Pastime was, or is, on the OLCC’s radar because of the process that happened last fall,” Magill said. “Having an incident here of this significance, I made a phone call to the OLCC that we had an incident and that reports would be coming.”

He said the sheriff’s office would notify the OLCC of any other incident at any other bar.

He said of the OLCC, “They were very specific with us back in January or February, ‘Hey, if you have any other incidents, don’t hesitate to give us a call so we can have that conversation.’”

TenEyck said he knew the two people who died in the fatal crash last summer, and also the two people who were injured in a wreck a while before that.

“I really don’t know what all the answers are, but we need to do whatever it takes to see that this stops happening. Period. End of sentence. It’s just got to stop, it’s happening too much,” TenEyck said.

He was referring to “people that have been at the Pastime ending up in really bad crashes. There’s been three of them I know of in barely a year, and so far two people dead.

“As a community we damn well need to wake up and make this stop happening. It’s preventable.”

TenEyck said the woman wasn’t “grossly drunk, she was doing well enough to give me some reasonably respectable dance lessons.”

Scott, the OLCC spokesperson, said, “In any situation where there are injuries or loss of life or any serious harm that comes to someone as a result of over-service of alcohol we take those very seriously and sometimes those investigations do take a bit longer.”

They take longer because “we want to make sure we do the best job that we can and the other reason is because when there are instances where someone is hurt there’s usually a criminal aspect as well and in those situations the criminal investigation would take precedence over our administrative investigation.”

She said, “There are other issues to worry about other than just getting a ticket from the OLCC.”

The other issues referred to include criminal or civil actions and the overall health and wellbeing of customers, employees and neighbors.

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