Mom of 2 dies in high-speed crash in Talent
TALENT — A 33-year-old Medford mother of two died Tuesday night in a high-speed crash along a stretch of road in Talent, police said.
Jamie Walls was driving east in a 1994 Honda Civic along the 2200 block of Pioneer Road just before midnight when she lost control of the car for an unknown reason, the Jackson County Sheriff's Department reported. Walls then swerved off the road and went through a fence, police said. The car rolled and came to rest on its roof in a Talent Irrigation District canal.
Walls was pronounced dead at the scene and had to be extricated from the vehicle, which took about 10 minutes. Both passengers were able to crawl from the vehicle, fire officials said.
Steven Lange, who lives at the StoneRiver Vineyard down Pioneer Road, said he was watching TV when he heard the crash, followed by the sounds of a vehicle rolling.
"Maybe a minute, two minutes later, I heard someone screaming help," Lange said.
Lange ran outside. A passer-by told him there had been an accident in the ditch next to the road. He hopped on an all-terrain vehicle and drove to the crash site. There, he tried to help one of the escaped passengers pry one of the doors off. The doors wouldn't budge. A few minutes later, acquaintances of those in the car showed up to help. Then emergency authorities arrived and extricated Walls.
"It's tragic what happened," Lange said.
Jackson County Fire District No. 5, Oregon State Police, Talent and Phoenix police and Mercy Flights responded. Crews were on scene until about 1 a.m.
"The road was closed pretty much the entire time," said Aaron Bustard, District 5 captain. "Most of our crews left within an hour."
The car's passengers, Andrew Gilman, 21, and Kendal Wheeler, 24, both of Ashland, were taken to Rogue Regional Medical Center for injuries. Both men were listed in fair condition as of Wednesday afternoon.
Gilman was cited by the Jackson County Sheriff's Department for methamphetamine possession. Court records show he was indicted for possession of heroin in July and is awaiting an Aug. 16 arraignment on the charge.
Walls pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of intoxicants in 2006 and possession of methamphetamine in 2007; both charges were dismissed after she completed diversion programs, records show.
The Serious Traffic Accident Reconstruction Team is investigating the crash to determine the car's estimated speed and whether there were any additional contributing factors, the Sheriff's Department said.
Sheriff's spokeswoman Andrea Carlson said police do not respond to that stretch of road for traffic crashes often.
Lange, who has lived on the stretch of road for the past 11 years or so, said high-speed traffic is a problem in the area.
"There's really bad speeding all the time here," he said. "Nothing this tragic, that's for sure."
Walls leaves behind two children, a 17-year-old son and an 8-year-old daughter, according to Jocelyn Pangburn, a friend of the family. Pangburn has set up an account in Jamie Walls' name at Wells Fargo Bank, where she works, to help the family with burial costs and supporting the children. Donations can be made at any branch, she said.