Driver’s snooze – not booze – causes Hazelwood smashup

Many drivers caught in the home-bound commute wondered why NE Halsey Street was blocked, or very slow moving, on March 11th. These exclusive photos tell the story …

Traffic is backed up on NE Halsey Street – shown here from the “split” back to the I-84 offramp – due to a one-vehicle accident.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Home-bound traffic along NE Halsey Street in the Hazelwood Neighborhood is usually slowing-going during typical rush hours. But during one evening’s recent commute, traffic came to a complete standstill at times, due to a single-vehicle smashup. It happened at about 5:30 p.m. on March 11.

“This big white pickup truck just drove up onto the sidewalk,” an employee of Gossip Restaurant & Lounge, 11340 NE Halsey Street, told us, as he sat in his car. “The truck just drove right up here and smashed right through the pole. Our lights went out; we’re closing for the night.”

There appears to be surprisingly little damage to this truck – but it’s clear that the driver smacked into the utility pole, almost dead center.

Drivers not familiar with the neighborhood – some streets go through, and some dead-end – had no choice but to creep eastward on NE Halsey Street until they passed the wreck, and Pacific Power’s crew starting to replace the severed wooden utility pole, just after the road “split” at NE Weidler Street.

According to a Portland Police Bureau District Officer at the scene, the driver of the pickup truck showed no signs of intoxication or impairment. “He just said he must have fallen asleep behind the wheel.”

A Pacific Power employee salvages parts from the smashed utility pole before a new pole is installed.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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