Tipsy driver charged in three-car Division St. smasher

First responders had to cut the top off a new Lexus to rescue one of the victims in this crash caused, police say, by an inebriated driver …

Looking west, traffic is shut down on SE Division Street at SE 136th Avenue due to this three-vehicle pileup.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Three vehicles were destroyed and five passengers were sent to the hospital in a grinding traffic smashup on SE Division Street at 136th Avenue the evening of February 8.

At about 7:30 p.m., vehicles on SE Division Street were stopped for a red light when an eastbound green Dodge Caravan slammed into the back of a red Toyota Tacoma pickup truck.

It hit with such force, witnesses said, that the pickup truck “was thrown forward” – into a white Lexus 300 4-door that had been northbound in the intersection at SE 136th Avenue.

Witnesses say, and officials confirm, that the collision was caused by the driver of the Dodge Caravan who didn’t heed a red traffic signal – and the stopped traffic just ahead of him.

This view makes it clear that the Caravan rear-ended the Toyota pickup, which was properly stopped for a red light, with tremendous force.

“There was a really loud crash,” said neighbor Nikki Teiges.  “It sounded like an explosion; then lots of glass breaking.”

9-1-1 dispatchers took many calls from people reporting the collision – calls which sent Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Traffic Division and East Precinct district officers, and rescue workers, on their way to the outer East Portland location.

Rescuers cut the top of this Lexus 300 to remove the victim, who was trapped inside.

As paramedics described it, there was a “significant intrusion” into the driver’s side of the Lexus – making it necessary for the crew of Portland Fire & Rescue Truck 7 to use their Homatro Rescue Tools to cut the roof off the vehicle in order to free its driver.

After the victims were taken to area hospitals, and police investigators completed their reports, a trio of tow trucks performed a ballet – first dragging apart the wrecked vehicles, and then carting them away.

Tow drivers get the vehicles ready to pull apart, after the devastating wreck.

PPB Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson confirmed the witness reports about how this wreck occurred.

“The driver of the Dodge Caravan, 48-year-old Jimmy Pitts of Gresham, was cited for DUII, after being transported to the hospital,” Simpson later said.

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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