SH woman dies in collision with school bus

Sean C. Morgan

An 84-year-old Sweet Home woman was pronounced dead at the scene of a crash involving a school bus at the intersection of 18th Avenue and Main Street Friday afternoon.

Friends and family members say that Frances Templeton, 84, died from a heart attack prior to the crash, while police have not confirmed a cause of death or crash and are investigating.

Her husband, Dwight Templeton, 94, who was driving when the collision occurred, was transported to Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital and then transferred to Oregon Health Sciences University, where he remained in the intensive care unit Monday, with serious injuries.

The driver of the school bus, Angela Olsen-Goodwin, 40, of Sweet Home, was apparently not injured but was taken by private vehicle to SLCH for observation. No children were aboard the bus at the time of the crash.

At approximately 1:09 p.m., Sweet Home police and fire personnel responded to the crash. The Linn County Major Accident Investigation Team (MAIT) responded and conducted the accident investigation. A portion of the intersection remained closed for approximately three hours.

Witnesses reported that the vehicle driven by Dwight Templeton was headed west on Highway 20.

His vehicle, a 1990 Mercury Marquis, crossed into the oncoming lanes prior to reaching 18th Avenue, said Jessica Burnside, who was on foot near the intersection. She estimated the vehicle was traveling at 40 to 45 mph, without slowing, as it crashed into a school bus turning south onto 18th Avenue from the eastbound lanes of Main Street, pushing the bus onto the curb.

Burnside said she went over to the scene of the crash to see if everyone was all right.

Tye Dodge was driving east on Main Street, he said. All of the sudden, he saw Templeton’s vehicle cross into his path. Templeton’s vehicle just missed Dodge’s and another vehicle before crashing into the bus.

Family members believe that Frances Templeton was suffering from a heart attack prior to the crash, and that the heart attack caused the crash.

“He was reaching over to help her, and that’s why the accident occurred,” said Lerena Ruby, a friend of the family and neighbor to the Templetons for many years.

“Dwight was trying to get her to the clinic,” said Pearl-Marie Wheeler, Dwight Templeton’s sister.

Some witnesses reported seeing him slumped over, Wheeler said. That’s when he was helping her while trying to drive, and he must have jerked the wheel to the left.

Police have not yet confirmed a cause for the crash or the death of Frances Templeton and are continuing to investigate.

“We’ll be doing a full safety inspection of the school bus later today just to make sure all the safety systems and the bus were operating properly at the time of the accident,” Police Chief Bob Burford said Monday. That’s just standard procedure.

“We are investigating why the vehicle may have crossed over into the oncoming traffic, and there’s several different theories we are trying to follow up on.”

In the meantime, Dwight Templeton has about a 50-50 chance of surviving, Ruby said.

He suffered from 14 broken ribs, a punctured lung, a fractured clavicle, a seatbelt injury and a cut lip, Wheeler said. Both of his hands are also bandaged.

The Templetons have lived in Sweet Home for decades. Dwight served in the Navy and World War II. He returned to Sweet Home where he drove a loader most of his life.

Frances Templeton was born on March 1, 1926 in Little Fork, Minn., to John Francis and Lois Stewart (Griffith) Gordon. Her family moved to Missouri in 1928 and to Sweet Home in 1933.

She lived and worked in Portland’s shipyards as a welder in 1943. She was a custodian at Sweet Home Junior High in the 1970s.