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Principal severly injured in crash

A 44-year-old Medford woman severely injured in a motorcycle accident Monday near Trail is the principal of two Eagle Point schools, school district officials have confirmed.

Tiffany O'Donnell, principal of Shady Cove School in Shady Cove and Elk Trail Elementary School in Trail, sustained multiple fractures in her right leg, a ruptured bladder and a broken pelvis after her Suzuki motorcycle was struck at about 4:20 p.m. Monday by a 1999 blue Nissan Frontier pickup at Milepost 25 on Highway 62 in the Shady Cove area.

"It's basically been a shock, because she's a person who's so active in our community," said Eagle Point resident Ed Mayer, who has worked with O'Donnell on the Shady Cove Boys & Girls Club.

The truck was attempting to make a U-turn on Highway 62 and pulled across the westbound lane without the driver seeing O'Donnell, according to Oregon State Police. The truck struck her right side, police said.

The driver, Prospect resident Caroline Whitacre, 68, was cited for making an illegal U-turn, said OSP Lt. Kelly Collins.

O'Donnell was transported by ambulance to Rogue Valley Medical Center and later flown to Oregon Health & Science University in Portland for an emergency operation on her bladder, said Medford resident Kathy McMeen, O'Donnell's friend.

She had another surgery Wednesday to clean up her right leg.

On Friday, O'Donnell was expected to have pins and metal plates placed in her upper and lower leg to help to stabilize it, McMeen said.

O'Donnell, who grew up in the Butte Falls area, enjoys riding her motorcycle and sometimes commutes to work on it during good weather, McMeen said.

Eagle Point schools Superintendent Cynda Rickert said a teacher with an administrator's license would likely fill O'Donnell's positions at Shady Cove and Elk Trail schools while O'Donnell is recovering.

Students and colleagues have been gathering greeting cards and gifts for O'Donnell, which will be carried by Joni Parsons, principal of Eagle Point Middle School, who planned to travel to Portland this weekend to visit O'Donnell in the hospital, Rickert said.

"I have a feeling she is going to be inundated with well wishes from students and staff," Rickert said. "I believe this is what we can do that can help her. When you suffer challenges, what gets you through is that support. Our thoughts and prayers have been with her."

O'Donnell has three children who live in Vacaville, Calif., including two adult sons and a daughter who is a high school senior, McMeen said.

In order to help O'Donnell's family pay for travel and accommodations in Portland, as well as other medical expenses related to O'Donnell's care, the Shady Cove Boys & Girls Club has set up an account in her name at Chase Bank, said Mayer. Donations made out to Tiffany O'Donnell can be made at any Chase location, Mayer said.

"I know how financially devastating it can be even with health insurance when you have a long-term hospital stay out of the area, because my family has personally gone through this," said Mayer, whose stepdaughter was hospitalized in Portland seven years ago for a traumatic brain injury caused by a drunken driver.

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or e-mail pachen@mailtribune.com.