By ANDY GOODELL
OSKALOOSA — It’s a grim reminder of what can happen on the highway.
Just after 5 p.m. this past Sunday, there was an accident on Highway 63, which left several injured and one dead.
Six-year-old Nickolas Dooley of Oskaloosa lost his life the day after being involved in this accident, according to an Iowa State Patrol report.
Although he did not respond to this Sunday’s fatal accident personally, Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Tim Ramthun said he understands the gravity of the situation. Ramthun works out of the Ottumwa Iowa State Patrol office, whose coverage area includes Mahaska and other adjoining counties.
“Yes, over the years, I’ve done them,” said Ramthun of reporting on fatal highway accidents. “You have some guys (state troopers) that it bothers more than others. When you have kids the same age it bothers you some more.”
When contacted by phone Wednesday, Oskaloosa Elementary Principal Neal Hadden said the school was made aware of Nickolas’ death and is dealing with the issue, but declined to comment any further.
So, how did this accident happen?
According to an Iowa State Patrol report, Nathaniel Dooley, 28, of Oskaloosa, was driving south on Highway 63 just north of Oskaloosa. Along for the ride in the 1995 Chevrolet Lumina were Sara Dooley, 27, as well as Brandon Dooley, 4, and Nickolas Allen-Alfred Dooley, 6.
What happened next would prove to be an unfortunate example of what happens all too often.
The state patrol report said Nathaniel lost control of his vehicle on the icy and snowy roadway and slid sideways into a semitruck driven north on 63 by Robbie Willard Boyer, 46, of Gerald, Mo. Dooley’s vehicle first struck the side steps/fuel tank area of Boyer’s vehicle before it continued sliding under the truck’s trailer and struck its dual axles.
Nathaniel’s vehicle then continued sliding into the west side ditch on Highway 63.
Boyer saw Nathaniel lose control of his vehicle attempted to avoid the collision by pulling on to the right-hand shoulder of the roadway.
According to the Iowa State Patrol report, Nathaniel and Sara were wearing seat belts at the time of the accident. They were injured and transported to Mahaska Health Partnership where their conditions were unknown. The report further states that neither Brandon or Nickolas were wearing seat belts when the accident occurred. Both children were listed as injured before being transferred to MHP on the state patrol’s initial report. The updated report indicated Nickolas’ death.
“The majority of the time, seat belts lessen injuries and save lives,” said Ramthun.
Sgt. Ramthun said that when a fatal accident occurs, a technical investigator is called to examine numerous aspects of the accident event. Ramthun, a former technical investigator himself, said such an investigation usually lasts about 21 days, but can be considerably longer.
Ramthun said Sunday’s fatal accident is still under investigation.
Herald City Editor Andy Goodell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org