Worker's Comp Denied To Firefighter Hit And Run Victim

Feb 21, 2019

Last September, a firefighter working the Terwilliger fire near Blue River was the victim of an unsolved hit and run. He’s been in Oregon hospitals and rehab centers ever since. The man’s family hired an attorney after a claim for worker’s compensation was denied.

72-year old John Houdeshell is from Yreka, California. He traveled to the McKenzie River late last summer to drive a water tender on the Terwilliger Fire.

Yreka resident John Houdeshell with his water tender. He came to the McKenzie Valley to help fight the Terwilliger fire. He has been in Oregon hospitals and rehabs since September 3 when he was hit and left for dead on the McKenzie Highway
Credit Facebook John Houdeshell

While walking to his motel room for mandatory time off, Houdeshell was struck from behind, sustaining life threatening injuries. SAIF, an Oregon worker’s comp provider, has thus far refused to pay his medical claim.

Eugene attorney Keith Semple says his client should be covered as a “traveling employee.”

“To be taken out by a catastrophe like this with a hit and run driver,” Semple says, “and then to be left out in the cold by the worker’s comp system without any explanation of why that’s being done. It’s pretty gut wrenching.”

A Worker’s Compensation Board hearing is pending and may still be months away. Calls for comment from SAIF were not immediately returned.

Note: SAIF is a KLCC underwriter.