By Paul Daquilante • Staff Writer • 

Grand Ronde man dies in Highway 18 crash

[Updated 12/4 2 p.m.]

A Grand Ronde man was killed and four others were injured late Monday morning in a three-vehicle crash on Highway 18, on the bridge crossing the South Yamhill River, in the area of the Sheridan interchange.

Keith Frederick Bacchetti, 50, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Oregon State Police. His wife, Tawnya Bacchetti, 52, a passenger in the car, is in serious condition as of Wednesday, according to a hospital spokesperson. Capt. Brad Hessel with the McMinnville OSP office described her injuries as significant, requiring surgery.

The preliminary investigation indicated a 1995 Ford Mustang, operated by Clayton Lynn Gruber, 26, of Dallas, was eastbound when it crossed the centerline for an unknown reason and collided with a 2006 Volkswagen Jetta driven by Keith Bacchetti, according to Trooper Justin Zemlicka. Law enforcement and medical personnel responded to the scene about 11:45 a.m. 

Gruber’s vehicle continued eastbound and collided with a westbound 2012 Toyota RAV4 operated by Stanley R. Michelson, 69, of Otis.

Gruber was transported to Willamette Valley Medical Center with serious injuries.

Michelson and his passenger, Kristen Michelson, 61, of Otis, were transported to the McMinnville hospital for observation.

The highway was closed about four hours while the crash was investigated and the scene cleared. Traffic was rerouted through Sheridan with assistance from that city’s public works department.

Vehicles driven by Bacchetti and Gruber were towed to the McMinnville OSP office, while the Michelson vehicle was taken to the nearby OK Towing lot.

“That’s not entirely unusual,” Hessel said. “If there is the potential for criminal charges, and I can’t say that is clear cut in this case, it gives us a chance to examine the vehicles more closely. We can maintain a chain of custody until the investigation is completed.”

At that time, investigative findings will be forwarded to Yamhill County District Attorney Brad Berry’s office for review.

“We’ll do a mechanical investigation of the vehicles,” Hessel said. “We want to complete the investigation and do a thorough job.”

Facebook posts following the crash expressed support for the Bacchetti family.

“I grew up racing with their son Kaleb, and Tawnya and Keith were like family to me,” one poster wrote. “My heart is completely shattered. Please keep their family in your thoughts and prayers and hug your loved ones extra tight tonight.”

Another wrote, “Sending an enormous amount of love to the Bacchetti Family. My heart is so crushed! Please keep their family in your thoughts and prayers and hug your loved ones. I love you Tawnya Bacchetti. Hang in there and be strong. You will pull through.”

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