Chris Collins
The Baker City Herald

The first day of spring started out much like any other day for Jay Wilson.

But it would end with a trip to the hospital and a prayer of thanksgiving that although he was sore, no bones were broken and he was going home to his family.

Wilson, 43, who with his wife, Kristin, owns Appliances and More, was back on the job Thursday after being blindsided by a driver who police say was under the influence of drugs and alcohol when her Ford Aerostar van rammed Wilson’s pickup truck as he prepared to get into it.

Wilson was finishing up a service call at Fifth and Campbell streets when he was hit at about 1:25 p.m. Wednesday.

The driver, Virginia Joan Soderholm, 46, of 2610 14th St., is being held at the Baker County Jail on $37,500 bail (release could be granted upon the posting of $3,750).

Soderholm is charged with one count each of driving under the influence of intoxicants, fourth-degree assault, reckless endangering, failing to maintain lane of travel, no insurance and second-degree criminal mischief.

Police drove her to the hospital to be examined before she could be released to the jail because of her high level of intoxication, Police Chief Dustin Newman said.

Soderholm was driving east on Campbell Street on her way to the Courthouse when the crash happened. She was scheduled to appear at 1:30 p.m. for a sentencing hearing on charges of two counts of first-degree theft.

Newman said police called Circuit Court officials to tell them Soderholm would not make her court appearance.

After the crash, Wilson was taken by ambulance to Saint Alphonsus Medical Center where he was treated in the emergency room, underwent three X-rays to determine whether he’d broken any bones, and sent home about two hours later.

The crash itself happened much more quickly.

“I was putting my tools in the truck and I heard no brakes or nothing,” he said Thursday. “The next thing I know I heard a crunch and I was on the ground. And I was like, ‘What was that?’ ”

Wilson says the open door of his pickup truck pushed him to the ground as the pickup was shoved by the oncoming van and traveled 12 to 13 feet from where it had been parked in his customer’s driveway.

“I was just standing there,” he said. “If my truck wasn’t there (the van) probably would have hit the house.”

Once Wilson was able to get up, he realized his body was hurting.

“My head hurt, my elbow, my shoulder and my back hurt,” he said.

With his experience working as a firefighter for 19 years and as a paramedic for 14 years, Wilson knew he’d better call for an ambulance and head to the hospital.

“It’s most probably soft-tissue damage,” Wilson said of his injuries. “My back is pretty sore today.”

H e was on light duty Thursday after returning to the appliance store he and his wife have operated for the past two years. The couple live at Haines with their four children, ages 9, 7, 5 and 3.

“All I know is I’m super lucky to be here,” Wilson said. “Two inches to the left and it would have killed me.

“It could have been way, way, way worse,” he says.

“The kids don’t know or comprehend what happened or could have happened,” he said. “They just know Daddy’s truck got smashed.”

Wilson said he has no hard feelings toward Soderholm, who police say had a blood-alcohol content of .14, nearly twice the legal driving limit of .08, when she was arrested.

“I don’t even blame her,” Wilson said. “I blame the drugs and alcohol. Everybody makes mistakes. I just hope she learns from it.”

See more in the March 22, 2019, issue of the Baker City Herald.

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