Central Point family needs help following July 4 crash

CENTRAL POINT — Friends and relatives of local family members involved in a three-car crash on the Fourth of July are rallying to help them make ends meet as they recover from their injuries.

A truck carrying four generations of the Maertz family had come to a stop in the northbound lane of Interstate 5 because of congestion at The Expo near Exit 33. The family had been camping and was headed into Central Point to watch the fireworks show at The Expo.

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To help the Maertz family, visit www.gofundme.com/3itqa0

Oregon State Police, who said traffic was backed up to a standstill for a half-mile in each direction, confirmed the crash occurred at 9:45 p.m. Six members of the Maertz family were injured when 43-year-old Efrain Mora, driving a 1998 Ford Explorer, crashed into the back of a full-size Chevy truck, driven by Dennis Maertz, 50.

The truck essentially folded in half, said family member and local photographer Louis Ruth, forcing a metal toolbox in the back of the truck through the window, where it struck at least three of the family members in the back of their heads.

Maertz's truck was pushed into the back of a third vehicle, a 1996 Mercury Sable, driven by 50-year-old Hisvaldo Arroyo Bautista.

Mora was cited for having an expired license. State police said the investigation had not been completed but that officers on the scene did not believe anyone to have driven in a negligent manner.

Ruth said family members from around the region had either arrived or planned to show up to help the family members during their recovery.

Ruth said his grandson, Dayton Maertz, 3, was in a car seat when the tool box broke through the truck's window but still sustained extensive injuries to his head. The toddler received 17 staples in addition to stitches in the side of his head, Ruth said, but seems to be recovering. Ruth said he was concerned that Dayton's dad, also named Dennis, may not be able to return to work soon.

At least one Maertz family member, Dayton's great-grandmother, remains in the hospital, recovering from extensive injuries that include broken ribs, spleen damage and head injuries, Ruth said.

"The whole family is pretty banged up. Dayton's dad can't even pick him up, so going back to work is out of the question for at least three to four more weeks," said Ruth, who has started a fund on gofundme to help the family.

"He was already having a tough time before this happened so we just want to support the whole family. I started the fund because I have about 2,000 followers on Facebook and I figure there are a lot of nice people out there. Even if everyone just gives a little, it would really help this family."

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. Email her at buffyp76@yahoo.com.

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