Camas man killed in traffic collision

Bill Jessett was a longtime local resident and volunteer

A local man died at the scene of a two-vehicle traffic collision Wednesday in Camas.

At approximately 5:30 p.m., 85-year-old Viola Jessett, with her husband William “Bill” Jessett in the passenger seat, was driving a 1997 Ford Escort eastbound on Northeast Third Avenue. According to a press release from the Camas Police Department, the Jessett’s vehicle was hit by a 2002 Mercury Mountaineer being driven northbound on Northeast Hayes Street by 76-year-old Sol Claypool.

Bill Jessett, 88, of Camas, was non-responsive when emergency personnel arrived at the scene. Although paramedics with the Camas-Washougal Fire Department attempted CPR, he could not be revived and was pronounced dead.

Claypool was not injured. She is cooperating with investigators.

Jessett had lived in the Camas-Washougal area since the 1950s, and worked at the Camas paper mill for 34 years until his retirement as a water supervisor.

He volunteered at the Inter-Faith Treasure House in Washougal for several decades, and was an organizer of the Clark County-wide Inter-Service Club Walk & Knock food drive.

In 2003, at the age of 75, he was presented with the Washington Food Coalition’s Golden Rule Award, in recognition of his dedication to helping the hungry.

At the time, Jessett was volunteering 56 hours a week as the food administrator for the Treasure House, a non-profit organization that provides food, clothing and emergency assistance to children and their families who are in crisis. He told the Post-Record that he was committed to helping those in need.

“I get the satisfaction of knowing I’m helping people,” he said. “There are a lot of people out there that need food, so I am happy to help with that.”

Jessett also volunteered for a program called “Cursillo/Walk to Emmaus,” which had him visiting inmates at the state corrections facility in Walla Walla, Washington, as part of a prison ministry. In addition, he was a member of the Kiwanis club and the Washougal Lions Club, serving as president of the latter from 1992 to 1993.

Jessett was recognized as the Camas-Washougal Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of the Year in 1991, and with his wife was selected in 1996 as Camas Days Royalty. Both awards highlight individuals for their community service work.

Following Wednesday’s car accident, Northeast Third Avenue was closed for approximately three hours.

CPD officers were assisted by the Clark County Traffic Homicide Unit. The investigation is ongoing. No determination has been made regarding criminal charges.

Northeast Third Avenue is a four-lane primary arterial road that connects the cities of Camas and Washougal. The speed limit in the area where the collision took place is 25 mph.

This story will be updated.

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