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MailTribune.com
  • Sams Valley driver dies in collision with cow

  • A Sams Valley man was killed and his mother critically injured after their vehicle struck a cow (see correction note below) on a state highway near Union Creek late Saturday night.
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  • A Sams Valley man was killed and his mother critically injured after their vehicle struck a cow on a state highway near Union Creek late Saturday night.
    Rodney Wonacott, 51, was killed instantly when the westbound Buick he was driving, and an eastbound Ford pickup truck, simultaneously slammed into the cow, which was standing in the middle of Oregon State Highway 230.
    The driver of the Ford truck, 28-year-old Aaron Platt of Redmond, and his passengers were not injured in the crash, police reports said.
    Rita Dyer said her brother and mother were returning from a funeral in Bend when the fatal crash occurred on the dark and rain-slicked highway near Union Creek.
    Ruby Wonacott, 79, of west Medford, was critically injured, suffering four broken ribs, a broken shoulder, nose and thumb. She was rushed to Providence Medical Center where she remains, family members say.
    Her mother is in pain, but alert and oriented at Providence, she said.
    "She's very alert. She knows the facts," Dyer said.
    Both vehicles were traveling in opposite directions toward each other when they crashed into the cow. The truck and car did not come into contact with one another. But her brother's car veered off the highway upon impact with the cow, careening off the westbound shoulder and slamming into a tree, Dyer said.
    Rodney Wonacott grew up in Jackson County and attended Rogue Valley Adventist School. He was a hunting and fishing guide, she said.
    "He had many friends here in the valley. He loved the out of doors," said Dyer.
    Dyer said her brother was also an organ donor. His organs are being harvested at a hospital in Roseburg. No funeral or memorial plans have yet been made, Dyer said.
    Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.
    Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly identified the cow as a bull elk. This version has been corrected, and a quote referring to the elk has been removed.
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