Log truck driver killed in wreck on Highway 101 at Lake Crescent

Log truck driver killed in wreck on Highway 101 at Lake Crescent

PORT ANGELES — A 44-year-old log truck driver died early Tuesday morning after he crossed the U.S. Highway 101 centerline at Lake Crescent, struck a guardrail and overturned, authorities said.

Driver Aaron Z. Cochran, who was ejected from his 2014 Kenworth, died at the scene, Washington State Patrol spokesman Russ Winger said.

The collision occurred at milepost 230 near Crescent Lake Viewpoint, shutting down Highway 101 in both directions from milepost 231 to milepost 232 near East Beach Road beginning at 6:21 a.m., according to a state Department of Transportation email alert Tuesday morning.

Drivers traveling to and from the West End rerouted to state Highway 112.

The road fully reopened at 1:30 p.m., State Patrol spokesman Russ Winger said.

Olympic National Park and the State Patrol are investigating the fatality, Olympic National Park spokeswoman Penny Wagner said in an email.

Winger said Cochran might not have been wearing a seat belt while driving the fully loaded log truck east toward Port Angeles.

“He was ejected from the vehicle,” he said. “Maybe he was going too fast, but we don’t know that yet.

“Whether there was anything mechanical, our commercial vehicle guys are inspecting that.”

Cochran came around a curve, crossed the centerline and was coming into another curve when he lost control, Winger said.

“As it came around the curve and crossed the centerline, it hit the guardrail on the left and ejected its load,” Winger said.

He said the Kenworth was uprighted, and the spilled logs were transferred to another vehicle.

A four-hour delay was scheduled in advance for Highway 101 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday between East Beach Road and Barnes Point as part of a Highway 101 construction project, Wagner said.

Strider Construction provided traffic control for the accident and cleared logs from the roadway, she said.

Jerry Yap of Beaver drove by the wreck shortly after the truck rolled, said his wife, Jodi Riker.

People were gathered around the truck and running toward it, Yap told Riker.

“He said they were trying to get the trucker, to render aid,” Riker said.

She said her husband is a veteran, a paratrooper who saw action in the Grenada conflict and was shot several times.

He turned around and took Highway 112, shaken by what he saw, Riker said.

“He was very upset, and he does not usually get that way,” she said.

“When he sees this kind of stuff, he knows how to react, but it still upsets him.”

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

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