Wrong-way driver causes Montavilla smashup

Most Stark Street wrong-way drivers quickly see their error. This one obviously didn’t …

On SE Stark Street, just west of SE 81st Avenue, a two-vehicle crash is the result of a wrong-way driver.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Anyone who has frequently driven along the SE Stark/Washington Street couplet – from SE 76th Avenue out to 106th Avenue – has probably seen a wrong-way driver on the one-way street. They usually quickly realize their blunder, and turn off.

But late on October 26, just after 11:00 p.m., a wrong-way driver didn’t make a course correction, and caused head-on collision severe enough to send one person to the hospital.

This pickup truck sustained considerable damage; the impact activated the driver’s-side airbag.

The driver of a red Ford pickup truck said he was westbound on SE Stark Street. After passing SE 82nd Avenue of Roses, he recalled seeing headlights in the distance. This isn’t unusual on many a Portland street – but there, in Montavilla, SE Stark Street is “One Way”, westbound.

“I kept slowing down, thinking the car coming at me would stop, or turn off on a side street,” the shaken driver said, adding he came to a stop just west of SE 81st Avenue.

“I couldn’t believe it,” the victim said. “The car kept coming right at me, and it was going fast. Then, ‘boom!” it hit me head-on.”

He said he didn’t know what scared him more – being struck by a wrong-way driver, or the airbag in his steering wheel exploding in his face.

“I’m not hurt, I don’t think,” he said. “But this is major weird.”

Officials say this VE Jetta was driving the wrong way, on a one-way street.

The driver of the other car, a VW Jetta from Washington State, was sitting on the curb, mumbling answers to questions put to him by Portland Police Bureau officers, awaiting a Traffic Division officer to come and perform an evaluation.

It appeared as if the wrong-way driven car had airbags, but none had deployed in the vehicle. An officer said a female passenger was transported for medical care by ambulance; injuries unknown.

The outcome of the evaluation of the responsible driver, and the nature and quantity of citations that may have been issued, have not yet been made public.

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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