Careless drivers turn outer Sandy Blvd. into ‘wreck alley’

Is outer Sandy Blvd. jinxed? Discover what authorities say is behind the recent rash of vehicle collisions plaguing NE Sandy Blvd. in the Wilkes neighborhood‚

The eastbound commute for the driver of this Dodge Intrepid along NE Sandy Blvd., just east of NE 152nd Ave., ended abruptly when another driver crossed across the center line and hit him head-on.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
This week alone, two grinding smash-ups have totaled five vehicles on outer NE Sandy Blvd., shutting down one or both lanes of this busy street for hours.

Surprisingly, neither of these accidents induced trauma injuries.

Drivers walk away from head-on collision
Just after the morning rush hour on July 30, a westbound brown Buick crossed over the center line of NE Sandy Blvd., near NE 152nd Ave. It struck a Dodge Intrepid head-on.

Officers say the driver of this Buick caused the head-on collision‚ but wasn’t ticketed.

While officers on scene said that the driver of Buick caused the head-on collision, the accident wasn’t investigated, nor the driver ticketed‚ because there were no resulting trauma injuries.

“The officers on scene helped the drivers exchange information,” said Sgt. Brian Schmautz, police spokesman. “No citations were issued.”

Tailgater ticketed
Two days later, a mid-afternoon pile-up occurred on the same road, about 500 feet west of NE 148 Ave.

An officer takes down information while investigating a wreck officials say was caused by the driver of the Dodge Dakota following too closely to the now-demolished Toyota.

About 3:00 p.m. on August 1, a gold Dodge Dakota plowed into blue Toyota‚ ramming it into a rusty Mazda MPV van‚ which bumped into a black Hyundai Veracruz.

The driver of the Hyundai, the fourth vehicle in this crash‚ the one least damaged‚ told us, “Traffic slowed down for the red light. I heard a big crash behind me. I drove forward as far as I could without hitting the car in front of me. But I still got bumped. I’m OK, but the elderly driver of the blue car [Toyota] was taken to the hospital.”

Doug Smith says he was walking to pick up his mail at the senior living development on Sandy Blvd. “I don’t know why I looked up, but I saw the gold SUV drive right into the little blue car. It was going fast. I’m surprised it didn’t kill the driver.”

After being hit by the Toyota, this minivan had to be towed. “I don’t know what we’ll do,” the driver tells us.

The driver of the crumpled Toyota, 82-year-old Eldon Richmond, was taken to the hospital for observation and released.

52-year-old Lonnie Kute, driver of the Dodge Dakota responsible for chain-reaction pile-up, was cited for following too close, Schmautz reported.

Not paying attention
Outer NE Sandy Blvd. is straight, flat and has good sight-lines. The weather was clear and the road was dry on both days. We asked cops at the scene at both wrecks if outer NE Sandy Blvd. was jinxed.

“No, I don’t think that’s the case,” a Portland Police Bureau East Precinct officer told us. “I think people who frequently drive Sandy Blvd. out here are so familiar with it, they just don’t pay attention. All it takes is a few second of inattention to get into a wreck.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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