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

Feb 19, 2020

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.

John Houdeshell stands behind his water tender, before he was struck and nearly killed by a hit and run driver on September 02, 2018. His worker's compensation claim was approved on February 02, 2020.
Credit John Houdeshell

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.