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Bicycle-truck crash kills OSU nutrition expert
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Bicycle-truck crash kills OSU nutrition expert

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Bicycle-truck crash kills OSU nutrition expert
Jane Higdon

Higdon hit by log truck after another cyclist falls

By the Gazette-Times

Jane Higdon, a nutrition expert who six years ago developed the Micronutrient Information Center in the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, died Wednesday in a bicycle accident near Cottage Grove

Higdon was attempting to avoid another cyclist who had fallen when she was struck by a log truck on Territorial Road west of Cottage Grove, according to the Oregon State Police.

An OSU alumnus with a doctoral degree in nutrition, Higdon also was a registered nurse and had a bachelor's degree in biology from Stanford University. She helped pioneer the center at OSU that provides information about vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients.

"Jane was a wonderful, warm and caring person, full of life, and an incredible asset to the Linus Pauling Institute," said Balz Frei, professor and director of the institute. "She single-handedly put together our Micronutrient Information Center, which has helped millions of people learn more about nutrition and health. Her death is a great loss to all of us."

In her role at OSU, Higdon worked to compile and analyze the latest scientific studies about the role of nutrition in preventing or addressing some of the world's primary health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, and complications of diabetes.

She said that her goal was to "offer solid, credible facts, backed by scientific studies and reviewed by experts, which can help readers sort through the confusion and contradictory statements you often see in this field."

Higdon also worked to translate complex scientific information into forms that the general public could more easily understand. People could get the latest findings on everything from cruciferous vegetables to coffee, and contact the center for personal answers to their questions.

The Linus Pauling Institute at OSU is a leader in the study of micronutrients and their role in promoting optimum health or preventing and treating disease.

Higdon is survived by her husband, Tom Jefferson of Eugene. Avid bicyclists, the couple had taken bicycling tours in Europe and were preparing to take another trip there this summer, said Barbara McVicar, assistant to the director of the Linus Pauling Institute. "She was excited about going on that again."

"She was just fantastic," McVicar added. "She and I worked close together for the last six years developing our Web site."

Higdon, who worked part time at the institute, had Wednesday afternoon off, McVicar said.

Oregon State Police gave this account of Wednesday's accident:

Higdon was riding behind three other cyclists when the second cyclist in line crashed.

At the same time, the approaching southbound 2004 Kenworth truck and pole trailer, driven by John McWhorter, 31, of Winston, was slowing down and moving over to pass the bicyclists.

To avoid the other bicyclist who had gone down, Higdon moved into the southbound lane. McWhorter then moved toward the northbound lane in an attempt to avoid Higdon, but the right side of the truck struck her.

After the impact, the log truck safely came to a stop a short distance from the initial point of impact.

The highway was closed about 3½ hours.

No citation was issued.

The three other bicyclists, all of Eugene and friends of Higdon, were not injured. They are Dwight Collins, 50; Alec Bentley, 66; and Paul Moore, 59.

David Stauth of the OSU News Service contributed to this story.

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