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49-year-old trucker gets 6 months jail for driving wrong way while drunk, hitting woman

A drunken Kenneth Burgess slammed his tractor-trailer into a 2002 red Honda Civic driven by Katherine Mary Emerson, then 24, of Vancouver after going the wrong way for 11 miles.

The Trucker News Services


PORTLAND, Ore. — A 49-year-old truck driver who was drunk when he crashed into an oncoming car on Interstate 205 — after driving the wrong way for 11 miles — was sentenced to six months jail Tuesday.

According to an article in the Portland Oregonian, Kenneth Eugene Burgess, 49, pleaded guilty to third-degree assault, driving under the influence of intoxicants and reckless endangerment for the crash at about 4:30 a.m. March 18.

The collision in the southbound lanes sent debris flying in the northbound lanes, closing all but one lane and causing hours of gridlock for thousands in that Monday morning commute.

Burgess slammed his tractor-trailer into a 2002 red Honda Civic driven by Katherine Mary Emerson, then 24, of Vancouver. She suffered extensive bruising throughout her body.

She was driving to work at Southwest Airlines as a baggage handler.

Police believe Burgess started driving westbound in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 84 in Troutdale, then traveled north in the southbound lanes of I-205 before slamming into Emerson's car near the Washington border.

Police originally tried to pursue Burgess after they started receiving 911 calls about 4:20 a.m., but thought it was too dangerous because he was driving the wrong direction on the freeway. They twice tried to deploy spike strips, but were unsuccessful at stopping him before the crash.

Burgess’ blood alcohol level was .15 percent, well above the legal limit for commercial drivers, which is .04 percent.

He was convicted in 1993 of drunken driving.

Burgess could get out of jail early to enter inpatient alcohol treatment.

He will lose his CDL for life, and his personal driver's license for five years.

He will be on probation for three years. If he fails to abide by the terms of his probation, he faces about 1 1/2 years in prison.

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