By CHRIS COLLINS
Of the Baker City Herald
A semi-truck and trailer loaded with 102,000 pounds of paper crossed the freeway and crashed into the North Powder Cenex Truck Stop building early this morning.
The truck, driven by Thomas Salmon, 58, of Lacey, Wash., damaged the rear of the building and a 1995 Plymouth Voyager van belonging to Peg Snaza-Alexis, Cenex manager, said Oregon State Police Lt. Reg Madsen.
Salmon was taken by ambulance to Grande Ronde Hospital at La Grande. A report on his condition was not available in time for this story.
Madsen said witnesses reported Salmon was slumped over the wheel of the vehicle as it came into town. At this point investigators are speculating that he had some type of medical emergency that led him to lose consciousness prior to the 6:30 a.m. crash, Madsen said.
Cenex, North Powder's only gas station, was closed by the crash. Repairs are expected to take about three weeks, said Shirley Hayes, bookkeeper at the Baker City Cenex.
Fortunately, Snaza-Alexis was pumping gas outside the building and was not standing at the computer where the truck hit, said Linda Doud, North Powder city recorder.
andquot;Why nobody got hit or hurt it's just amazing,andquot; Doud said. andquot;It could have been really bad if it had been any other time of day.andquot;
The North Powder Quick Response Team was dispatched to the scene at 6:41 a.m., Doud said.
According to OSP reports, the truck was traveling east on I-84 when it crossed the median and traveled the wrong way down the westbound on-ramp and then crossed the road and traveled into the parking lot of the gas station and cafe. Snaza-Alexis's van became embedded in the front of the truck before it struck the building, Madsen said.
The truck avoided the gas pumps and a propane tank at the Cenex station. The sign pole at the business stopped the vehicle and kept it from traveling down the hill where it could have damaged the city's water pump station, Doud said.