District 9 principal seriously injured in accident

Tiffany O’Donnell, principal Elk-Trail and Shady Cove Schools, was severely injured in an accident on Monday, Sept. 13, at about 4:23 p.m.

O’Donnell was returning to Shady Cove from Elk Trail on her motorcycle.  At the  intersection of Elk Creek Road and Highway 62, as O’Donnell was traveling west on Hwy. 62, a 1999 Nissan Frontier Pickup operated by Caroline M Whitacre, 68, of Prospect, attempted a U turn across the highway, striking the motorcycle on the right side.

According to Oregon State Police, Whitacre was cited for an illegal U turn.

O’Donnell was transported to Rogue Valley Medical Center and then flown to OHSU in Portland Monday night.  She had several injuries including a badly broken leg, a ruptured bladder and injuries to her pelvis. 

She underwent a five-hour surgery very early Tuesday morning to repair damage to her bladder. Local sources say surgeons waited until Friday to perform the major repairs on her leg, which  included  inserting a plate and screws. Surgery is planned on her pelvis this week. She remains in the intensive care unit.

O’Donnell is not only principal of the three schools, she started the campaign to get a place for Shady Cove-Trail youth to “hang out” after school and during the summer. Her efforts paid off this year with a youth center now run by the Boys & Girls Club.

Students, community folks and school personnel have been extremely concerned about the popular principal, but while she is in intensive care they cannot communicate with her. So, with leadership from Boys & Girls Club and Upper Rogue Rural Action Team, a fund has been established in the name of Tiffany O’Donnell at any Chase Bank. Shady Cove resident Ed Mayer, whose step-daughter was critically injured several years ago when struck by a drunk driver, knows all too well the costs beyond what insurance will pay and stepped up to assist with the fund establishment.

In addition, the Material Girls Quilting Club sent a quilt with EPJHS Principal Joni Parsons, who went  to Portland last Saturday with a large assortment of cards and well wishes to be delivered to O’Donnell.

School officials did a bit of scrambling of priorities last week as they began to consider a substitute principal until Tiffany returns. They looked at teachers within the district with administrative license or in the administrative license program. And at the end of the school day Friday they met with the staffs of Shady Cove and Elk Trail schools to announce Tiffany Lambert would fill the position on a temporary basis.

Lambert is described by Superintendent Cynda Rickert as “an awesome educator.” She currently is a special education teacher at White Mountain Middle School, but has served as a principal and special education teacher in a small school in Sweet Home. She is asked to fill those same positions at Elk Trail and Shady Cove.

The special education teacher now at Elk Trail/Shady Cove, Sheila Gruver, will take Lambert’s position at WMMS.

Rickert expressed her deep appreciation to Lambert and Gruver and to the Eagle Point Education Association and Southern Oregon Bargaining Council for helping make the changes happen quickly and smoothly.
By Nancy Leonard
Of the Independent


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