Illinois Valley News

CAVE JUNCTION, Ore. - A 38-foot diesel-powered motorhome towing a car smashed into and demolished the Pizza Pit restaurant after the rig struck two cars and went out of control on Sunday.

The front portion of the Pizza King was left open to the elements and the roof collapsed, held up only by the motorhome's rear.

Its driver reportedly told his passengers just prior to the crash that he could not stop, according to Oregon State Police.

Four people in the large RV, including its driver - who was medically evacuated from the Junction Inn vacant lot by Medford-based Mercy Flights - were reported injured. The four all are from Livermore.

Two employees at the restaurant along U.S. Hwy. 199 were at the rear of the building, and escaped injury at the time of the major incident, reported at 12:48 p.m.

So many people were notifying the 911 Dispatch Center of the wreck that the lines became jammed.

The driver of one struck vehicles was transported by American Medical Response, as were the three passengers in the 2000 model motorhome, said OSP and Capt. Joe Feldhaus, of Illinois Valley Fire District, who was incident commander.

A man and woman in the other car, a BMW convertible, involved refused medical treatment. Their car ended up on the north side of Caves Highway between Stevereno's Family Restaurant and Oregon Caves Chevron.

They were identified as Medford residents Michael R. Anderson, 56, and Claudia Smith Anderson, 50.

Two women in other cars at the intersection where the initial crash occurred said that they barely missed being involved.

The severity of the wreck, and the subsequent devastation and debris, attracted a huge crowd. Many people immediately began working to help and remove those in the motorhome until the arrival of emergency personnel.

Civilians also began removing debris from the area. Others helped direct traffic. An estimated 150 persons simply watched the proceedings from Hwy. 199 across from the Shop Smart Food Warehouse parking lot, adjacent to Pizza Pit. The scene was not completely cleared until around 5 p.m.

Among those helping at the scene during the disaster were members of the Shop Smart Food emergency response team. A andquot;Code 99andquot; call was given for the team in the store, trained to respond in the event of a major emergency.

andquot;It's a good team, and they did well,andquot; said Jessica Clark, store manager. IVFD firefighters also expressed appreciation to the team.

OSP identified the injured in the RV as its driver, William E. Mohler, 64, and passengers Nancy Mohler, 62, Robert Johnson, 69, and Dianne Johnson, 60. They were said to be in critical condition, Feldhaus said.

Cave Junction resident Audrey F. Miller, 82, was reported in fair to serious condition. She was the driver of a Nissan struck by the RV, and her vehicle ended up on the west side of Redwood Hwy. near the Junction Inn.

AMR sent four ambulances for the injured.

A vehicle parked on the north side of Pizza Pit incurred some damage from the collapsed building. The car is owned by Anne J. Smith, of Cave Junction.

Pizza Pit owner Bob Humphreys did not hesitate as to his next step. andquot;We're going to rebuild and reopen,andquot; he said. andquot;We're coming back.andquot;

He added that the building, which he owns, is cracked, as it apparently shifted from the collision. Doors on the north side of the structure would not close due to that.

Humphreys said that he has insurance. The RV driver also has insurance, OSP said.