Washougal man dies in ATV crash near Gifford Pinchot National Forest

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By Jerzy Shedlock, Columbian Breaking News Reporter

Investigators believe alcohol and/or excessive speed are factors in an ATV crash that killed a 47-year-old Washougal man and injured a Vancouver woman Tuesday night near a U.S. Forest Service Road east of Cougar. The driver, Eric J. Heath, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The crash, which occurred on private timber land, was reported to Skamania County sheriff’s deputies around 10:10 p.m., according to a news release from the sheriff’s office. Skamania County Fire District 6 Chief Frank Yela called about an injured woman who had been taken to his residence near the Northwoods Cabins.

“(Yela) was advised the ATV operator was still at the scene of the (crash), deceased,” according to the sheriff’s office.

The fire department, North County medics and a deputy responded to the scene and found Heath dead.

Heath’s passenger, 38-year-old Nicole R. Bryden, was taken to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center for treatment of unspecified injuries. She was in satisfactory condition Wednesday, according to a hospital spokesman.

Initial indicators suggest Heath was driving an ATV with broken headlights, and he was unfamiliar with the area, deputies said. Officials did not describe how the crash happened much beyond reporting its location, near Forest Service Road 2592, 18 miles east of Cougar.

“There are indications alcohol and/or speed may have been a contributing factor; the investigation is ongoing,” deputies added.

Heath was taken to the Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy.

This article originally appeared on The Columbian’s website at 11:20 a.m., Oct. 17, 2018.