Colville log spill encourages meme competition

RaeLynn Ricarte

Cory Fitzgerald, co-owner and general manager of Country Chevrolet Buick, said in any other year having a log truck dump a load of logs on four brand-new vehicles would be a catastrophe, but in 2020 it seems pretty mild.

“This is not the worst day of 2020,” he said on Thursday after the incident. “Nobody got hurt here — it's just sheet metal — and we can replace the cars. It's good news in 2020 terms.”

Fitzgerald was referencing the business lockdowns to stop spread of COVID-19 that resulted in lost sales earlier this year, and the human cost of the pandemic.

He said it was amazing to watch people park their cars in the Grocery Outlet lot across the street on Sept. 17 to watch logs being picked up and hauled away. He said it became an event that inspired plenty of banter among watchers, and those who viewed the carnage on Country Chevrolet’s Facebook page.

“Obviously, Stevens County needs something to do,” he laughed.

Fitzgerald decided to go with the humor of the day and offered a $50 cash prize to the person who came up with the best caption or meme for the incident that occurred around 7:45 a.m. on Thursday.

Some of the (family friendly) comments were:

“Our prices aren’t the only thing falling,” posted Les Baxter.

“We’ll give you a truckload of firewood with every sale,” wrote Peggy Thomas.

“Bark for Country Chevrolet Buick,” stated Curt Hoagland.

“No need to buy air freshener, comes with wood fresh pine scent,” wrote Judy Green Kern.

“Thanks for contacting Tech Support. It says here you’re having problems logging off...” penned Dan Liska.

“When life is telling you to stick with Ford,” stated Jeff Sorensen.

“Wood grain trim optionavailable,” suggested Larry Jasper.

“Our sales staff are at loggerheads to cut you a deal,” posted Philip Hill.

“Wood you buy a car from Country Chevrolet?” asked Kelly Wallace.

“This isn’t what I meant when I said, ‘Log in for a good deal,’” stated Laurie Englehardt.

“The car that logged the fewest miles,” added Lori Harsha McClintock.

According to police reports, Eugene Kenney, a driver for Rich Richmond Logging, claimed to have been coming through the roundabout from the south entrance when a dark colored Dodge pickup pulled out front of him. Kenney said he slammed on his brakes and managed to stop. Then the Dodge stalled in front of him, requiring him to hit his brakes again. At that point, the rear trailer began to tip and dumped its load logs.

The driver of the Dodge stopped to make sure the log truck operator was unhurt, said the report.

However, the Dodge driver told police that he wasn’t the cause of the accident and he denied cutting the log truck off.

Video footage from the 76 gas station across the street backed up the Dodge driver’s story.

Colville Police Officer Aaron Davis noted that video showed the log truck slowing down for the Dodge, which may have kept the accident from being worse.
When the log truck came into the turn, Davis noted that the rear trailer had its axles on top of the sidewalk, which contributed to it tipping. Damaged by the logs was a 2020 Buick Enclave, a 2020 Buick Encore, 2020 Chevy Traverse and 2021 Chevy Trailblazer.

Davis and Sergeant Keith Kendall shut down traffic while a self-loader from Vaagen Brothers Lumber removed the logs from the roadway and Country Chevrolet property.

The tipped trailer was righted and reloaded with the split logs.

After observing that the trailer could have been overloaded, a Washington State Patrol trooper began an investigation. Fifteen violations were found on the truck, including that it was carrying excessive weight. The legal weight limit is 93,500 pounds and the truck was loaded at 100,700. pounds. In addition, WSP determined that the brakes were inadequate, which might have contributed to the accident. The truck was also reportedly over height with its load and its axle positioning parts were defective due to loose U bolts.

Fitzgerald said the dealership sustained about $140,000 in damages. He said the vehicles that were totaled won't be sold at the business; they will be transported to a salvage auction in another location.