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Witnesses recount fiery crash

By Les Zaitz

The Enterprise

HARPER – Leonard Herr was carefully following the Schneider National freight truck west on U.S. 20, traveling no more than 30 mph on the black ice Saturday morning.

Moments before, Herr had passed an accident – a freight truck carrying cases of soda had rolled over.

Herr now followed the Schneider truck into a sharp curve seven miles west of Harper, where the roadway is pinched between the Malheur River and a rock bluff.

Then, Herr caught sight of a freight truck coming from the other direction, traveling what he estimated to be 50 to 60 mph, and completely in the wrong lane. He saw brake lights come on in the truck ahead of him.

“They hit directly head on,” Herr said. “They just exploded. It was a fireball explosion.”

Herr had yanked the wheel on his Jeep, trying to steer toward the shoulder . . .