By Claire Withycombe

The Bulletin

Friends of the Bemrose family have established a fund to assist with expenses. Details are available at

A Madras woman who died in a car crash on U.S. Highway 97 Tuesday afternoon that also killed three of her sons was a mother of eight.

Anita Bemrose, 49, died from her injuries after being airlifted to St. Charles Bend. At about 2 p.m. Tuesday, her Pontiac van was struck from behind as she was waiting to turn left from the highway onto Bear Lane. The Pontiac was then hit head-on by a southbound vehicle.

Three of Bemrose’s sons, 10, 12, and 14, also died as a result of the crash, according to Oregon State Police. The 12-year-old and 14-year-old were pronounced dead at the scene. Police said Wednesday that the 10-year-old died from his injuries at St. Charles Bend while undergoing treatment.

A woman who answered the phone at a publicly listed number for Bemrose on Wednesday said Anita Bemrose’s husband, Chester Bemrose, would not wish to comment.

Bemrose brought some of her children to a February 2015 event at the public library in Redmond through Oregon Connections Academy, an online charter school, according to Bulletin archives. At the time, six of Bemrose’s children were enrolled in the academy. Her three youngest sons — at the time 12, 10 and 9 — liked to play with Lego building blocks, according to archives.

Oregon State Police Sgt. Kyle Hove said he could not provide further information about the crash or what, if any, safety measures may have prevented it.

Bryan McDonald, 41, of Redmond, the driver of a Ford that struck Bemrose’s vehicle from behind, was taken to St. Charles Redmond with nonlife-threatening injuries.

Shirley Ayres, 69, of Madras, the driver of a Honda that struck Bemrose’s vehicle head-on, was taken to St. Charles Madras with nonlife-threatening injuries.

McDonald has several violations on his driving record, according to Oregon’s electronic court records system.

In February 2012, he entered and completed a diversion program for driving under the influence of intoxicants; in July 2012, he was convicted of operating a vehicle without driving privileges and driving uninsured and paid a fine. In 1999, McDonald pleaded guilty to speeding and the charge was dismissed about six months later; in 2000, he was convicted of speeding and paid a fine. McDonald could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Ayres also has several driving-related infractions, according to electronic court records. In 2015, she pleaded guilty to violating the basic speed rule but completed traffic school and the charge was dismissed. In two separate cases in 2003 and 2002, she pleaded guilty and was convicted of violating the basic speed rule; in 1989, 1994 and 1989, she received citations for traffic violations.

Ayres, reached by phone Wednesday evening, said her earlier driving infractions were unrelated to Tuesday’s crash. “I did not cause that accident, and if you’re trying to find some kind of thing to blame me for it, you need to talk to the state, because they’re the ones that should have the turning lane there,” she said.

Bemrose had no visible criminal record in Oregon, according to electronic court records.

Police are still seeking information about a vehicle that reportedly narrowly missed hitting Bemrose’s Pontiac from behind just prior to the crash. The agency can be contacted at 503-375-3555.

­— Reporter: 541-383-0376,