Lewiston Morning Tribune - December 7, 1961

Highway Crew Member Dead

      GRANGEVILLE - An Idaho State Highway Department survey crew member, Gary L. Gertje, 22, of Kendrick, died en route to Grangeville General Hospital Wednesday, possibly of injuries received in a fall on Whitebird Hill.

      A Lewiston pathologist will perform an autopsy Thursday morning to determine the cause of death.

      The death occurred at about 1 p.m. while the crew was marking preliminary surveys of Whitebird Hill for the proposed rerouting of U.S. Highway 95 in that area. No other members of the four-man survey team witnessed the accident.

      Members of the crew told highway officials at Lewiston that they were climbing the north side of the hill overlooking the Camas Prairie when they looked back and saw Gertje lying on the ground. They carried him up the hill and took him to the hosipital but he was reported dead on arrival.

      Other members of the crew were Wayne Wilson of Lewiston, crew chief; Richard Seay Jr. of Grangeville, and Jack C. Brown of Clarkston. Wilson said they thought Gertje may have struck his head on a rock when he fell.

      Brown was ahead of Gertje climbing the hill and looked over his shoulder to fing the man on the ground.

      Gertje had been employed by the Lewiston District of the highway staff for about four years and was carrying a distance measuring device at the time of the accident. E. K. Mongomery, of Lewiston, location engineer on the project said Gertje had recently been appointed transit or instrument man for the crew.

      They had been working on the Whitebird Hill project for some weeks, surveying the entire area for the proposed relocation project.

      Born at Orofino

      Mr. Gertje was born Sept. 4, at Orofino, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Roy Gertje of Southwick. He married Shirley Kaye Weyen at Leland Sept. 7, 1957. They had lived at Lewiston until 1960, when they returned to the Kendrick area and at the present time were living with his parents on their ranch near Southwick.

      Survivors include his wife, two sons, Ricki, 3, and Brett, 6 months, and his parents, all at home; one brother, David, of Southwick, and his grandmothers, Mrs. Ed. Gertje and Mrs. Stell McIver, both of Southwick.

      The body was taken to Brower-Wann Funeral Home at Lewiston.

Transcribed by Jo Frederiksen, 2014

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