Eagle Point teen recalls crash that killed best friend

An Eagle Point teen injured in Wednesday's fatal rollover in the Applegate is recovering at home and remembers some details of the accident, his mother said.

Nicholas Madtson, 15, was released from Rogue Valley Medical Center early Friday afternoon, said his mother, Amy Madtson.

The teen suffered a fractured ankle, a bruised lung and injuries to his spleen after he and his best friend, 18-year-old Andrew Roberts, also of Eagle Point, were ejected from the bed of the Toyota pickup truck driven by Brandon D. Hollingsworth, 19, of Central Point.

Amy Madtson said her son remembers the vehicle hitting loose gravel before going off the road and rolling near the intersection of Carberry Creek and Upper Applegate roads on Wednesday afternoon.

"They hit some loose gravel and the truck rolled," she said. "This was not a case of the driver being careless. This was not a reckless thing. This was an unfortunate thing — a tragedy."

The boys were camping in the Carberry Creek area in celebration of spring break. They were driving to get more firewood when the crash occurred, she said.

Roberts was declared dead at the scene. Madtson was taken by Mercy Flights helicopter to RVMC, where he initially was listed in serious condition. Hollingsworth was wearing his seat belt and was not injured in the crash.

Amy Madtson said she did not know Hollingsworth personally. His Facebook page states he is a recent Marine Corps recruit.

Nicholas was best friends with Roberts, an Eagle Point High School senior. Both were homeschooled during their earlier education, and were members of the high school's theater program, Madtson said.

Madtson has been in contact with Roberts' parents and expressed deep sympathy for their loss.

"When you're the parent of the child going home, it's hard to find the words," Madtson said, adding the "huge outpouring of love" and support has been appreciated.

"I am amazed at the love around us," she said.

Roberts was a member of Eagle Point Boy Scout Troop No. 48. He achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank attainable in the Scouting program, in December, local officials confirmed.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to Andrew's parents and family," said Rob Merriman, district director of the Big Pines District of the Crater Lake Boy Scouts Council.

Merriman said the council plans to honor Roberts' Scouting achievements after they have had an opportunity to speak with his parents.

Roberts' principal, Allen Barber, said his loss was a tragedy and the "exceptional student" will be greatly missed by his peers and his teachers.

School officials will offer grief counseling and students and faculty will determine the best way to honor Roberts' life and memory when everyone returns from spring break, he said.

Jackson County sheriff's deputies have completed the accident investigation. Their findings will be reviewed by the District Attorney's Office, said Andrea Carlson, the sheriff's media spokesperson.

Oregon law prohibits passengers under the age of 18 to ride in the back of a pickup truck unless the passenger seats are already occupied by other minors, said Medford police Lt. Bob Hansen. In that case, the minors in the bed of the vehicle must wear seat belts, he said. Hansen said another exception to the Class B traffic violation allows minors to ride in the truck bed if they are traveling between hunting sites.

"It's a very sad situation," Hansen said. "Every time I hear of a truck being in a vehicle accident, when there are passengers in the back, they always get ejected, and usually somebody is killed or somebody is seriously injured."

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.

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