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 October 23, 2023

Married couple killed by falling lumber on cycling trip

An Oregon couple's vacation took a tragic turn when they were hit by lumber from a passing truck while cycling in California.

Christian Deaton, 52, and his wife Michelle, 48, had traveled from their home in Portland to take a two-week road trip in Napa Valley, California. Their plan was to soak in the sun, attend concerts, and experience the exhilaration of the area's many festivals. To make their adventure even more memorable, the couple brought along their airstream, camping at scenic spots along their journey. One such spot was the Silverado Trail, known for its stunning views, but also for a white-painted bike lane that warns drivers of cyclists on the road.

The Deatons, described by friends as "very skilled athletes", had a shared love for cycling. Their friend, Josh Ring, mentioned that "cycling was the couple's primary passion, followed by traveling." Given the beautiful surroundings of Napa Valley, a bike ride seemed like the perfect way to take in the breathtaking views and create lasting memories.

But around 11 a.m., while enjoying their ride, tragedy struck. The Deatons were cycling on the Silverado Trail when a three-axle 2018 Freightliner flatbed truck passed by. As the truck attempted to overtake the couple, traveling at around 40 mph in a 55 mph speed limit zone, the lumber it was carrying shifted unexpectedly.

The wood became dislodged and struck the couple. Christian was tragically pronounced dead at the scene, while Michelle was rushed to the Queen of the Valley Medical Center, where she later succumbed to her injuries.

Witnesses and friends react to the loss

Upon hearing the news, Christian's father, Greg Deaton, took to social media to express his immense grief. He wrote about the devastating loss of his son and daughter-in-law, a pain that words can hardly describe.

The couple's close-knit circle of friends also shared their anguish. Cholee Thompson, Michelle's best friend, recalled the couple's enthusiasm for life and the depth of their bond,as reported by Daily Mail.

Elizabeth LeMay, another friend of the Deatons, echoed Thompson's sentiments, highlighting the couple's unique and special bond.

Concerns about the Silverado Trail

The Silverado Trail, despite its scenic beauty, is not without its risks. Kara Vernor from the Napa County Bicycle Coalition highlighted concerns about the high injury rate on this specific trail, urging both cyclists and drivers to exercise caution.

The truck driver involved in the incident, a 55-year-old man from Vallejo, remained at the scene, ABC7News reported.

He fully cooperated with investigators, and it was noted that the reason for the wood becoming dislodged from the truck is still under investigation.

Remembering the Deatons

Both Christian and Michelle Deaton were prominent figures at Nike. Christian held the title of VP of Product and Merchandising at NIKE Swim. Michelle, on the other hand, was an EQ Design Studio Director at Nike and had dedicated 23 years of her life to the company.

They resided in a luxurious $1 million penthouse apartment in Portland, symbolizing their successful careers and passion for design and fashion.

Central Valley Builders, the lumber company associated with the incident, expressed their profound sorrow and extended their deepest condolences to the grieving families.

Lessons to learn from this tragedy

  • Always prioritize safety: While cycling or driving, always be aware of your surroundings and exercise caution, especially in areas with high traffic.
  • Secure loads during transportation: For those transporting goods, ensure that loads are secure to prevent unforeseen accidents.
  • Cherish every moment: Life is unpredictable. Make the most of every moment with loved ones and never take anything for granted.

Why this story matters

The sudden and tragic passing of the Deatons is a painful reminder of life's unpredictability. Their story resonates with many who seek adventure and cherish every moment with their loved ones.

While many are drawn to the captivating allure of Napa Valley and its picturesque trails, this incident underscores the importance of safety and awareness, both for cyclists and drivers.

The story also sheds light on the broader implications of road safety and the necessary precautions needed when transporting heavy loads on busy roads. It reminds us to be vigilant, not only for our own sake but for the safety of others around us.

Lastly, the Deatons' legacy, both in their personal and professional lives, serves as a testament to living life to the fullest, pursuing one's passions, and cherishing every moment.

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Written By: Rampart Stonebridge

I'm Rampart Stonebridge, a curious and passionate writer who can't get enough of true crime. As a criminal investigative journalist, I put on my detective hat, delving deep into each case to reveal the hidden truths. My mission? To share engaging stories and shed light on the complexities of our mysterious world, all while satisfying your curiosity about the intriguing realm of true crime.
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