Other Pamplin Media Group sites


Chief of JCEMS dies from injuries sustained in crash

Motorcycle, car collision


by: SUSAN MATHENY - Debris is strewn across U.S. Highway 97 on Aug. 8, at the scene of a crash that critically injured Madras resident Don Heckathorn, chief of Jefferson County Emergency Medical Services.The chief of the Jefferson County Emergency Medical Services, Don Heckathorn, 64, died Aug. 14, from critical injuries sustained Aug. 8, when his motorcycle was struck by a car on U.S. Highway 97, at Dover Lane.

Heckathorn, who has managed JCEMS since March 2007, was northbound on the highway around 3 p.m., when an eastbound 1996 Cadillac, driven by Gerald Scott Green, 36, of Prineville, failed to stop at the stop sign on Dover Lane, and collided with Heckathorn's motorcycle.

According to Oregon State Police, which is investigating the crash, Heckathorn, who was riding a 2012 Harley Davidson motorcycle and wearing a helmet, sustained life-threatening injuries, and was transported by Lifeflight to St. Charles Bend, where he remained until his death Wednesday. His injuries included a head injury and multiple broken bones. Green was not injured.

by: SUSAN MATHENY - Traffic is backed up all the way up the hill on U.S. Highway 97, following an accident in which a Cadillac collided with a motorcycle at the intersection with Dover Lane. The accident occurred around 3 p.m. Aug. 8.No citations had been issued as of Thursday.

The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, JCEMS, Jefferson County Fire Department, and Oregon Department of Transportation assisted at the scene. The highway was closed for nearly an hour, and investigators were at the scene for several hours.

Heckathorn, who was born in Nampa, Idaho, moved to Madras with his family in 1962. After earning an automotive technology certificate from Central Oregon Community College, he worked at Warm Springs Forest Products and volunteered with the ambulance and fire department.

In 1980, Heckathorn went to work for Metro West Ambulance in Hillsboro, and trained to become a paramedic, along with his brother George.

George Heckathorn returned to Madras in 1986, and became the ambulance chief in 1989, when Don Heckathorn was hired as assistant chief.

In January 2007, four years after his brother was diagnosed with kidney and brain cancers and two months after his brother stepped down from the chief position, Don Heckathorn was named the new chief. George Heckathorn died in 2010.

On Thursday, Mike Lepin, assistant chief, said that it will be business as usual for JCEMS. There will be no special meeting of the board of directors.

"We don't want to do anything until we mourn our loss, collect ourselves and move on," said Lepin, who was appointed acting chief on Monday, when the JCEMS Board of Directors held their regular meeting, and asked Lepin to run the operation until they have more information.

Part-time and volunteer staff have pulled together to cover all shifts. "We're functioning," said Lepin, who had noted earlier that, "We take care of our own."

"Everybody here is still waiting to wake up," he said. "The reality of what's happened hasn't set in yet."



Local Weather

Fair

78°F

Madras

Fair

Humidity: 16%

Wind: 14 mph

  • 14 Sep 2014

    Clear 83°F 49°F

  • 15 Sep 2014

    Mostly Sunny 89°F 57°F