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McKenzie Hwy Hit And Run Victim Gets Worker's Comp, 17 Months Later

John Houdeshell

A firefighter, who was the victim of a hit and run on the McKenzie Highway, recently learned he will receive some back wages and compensation.

Water tender driver John Houdeshell came to the area to help fight the 2018 Terwilliger Fire. He was hit while taking mandatory time-off and suffered critical injuries.

The first worker’s compensation claim filed for Houdeshell was denied. The insurer rejected the argument that the firefighter was a “traveling employee.”

After more than a year of litigation, Eugene attorney Keith Semple says a judge decided in his client’s favor. SAIF will pay medical bills, lost wages and some compensation for his permanent impairment.

“He’ll never be able to return to fighting wild fires,” says Semple, “and he certainly won’t be a millionaire or anything like that, but he also won’t be bankrupt over his medical bills now.”

Semple says Houdeshell is still recovering from injuries sustained in the hit and run. And the driver has never been found.     

Tiffany joined the KLCC News team in 2007. She studied journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia and worked in a variety of media including television, technical writing, photography and daily print news before moving to the Pacific Northwest.
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