Driver killed, after car flies off Marine Drive

See the tragic result of a peculiar one-car accident that ended with the vehicle under water, in the Columbia River …

Portland Police Bureau officers shut down NE Marine Drive, while an in-water rescue effort turns into body recovery – of a driver whose car plunged into the icy Columbia River.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Almost directly across from the Portland International Airport main terminal, a car swerved, and then shot off NE Marine Drive 7:31 p.m. on December 31, landing in about 15 feet of water – about 25 feet north of the Columbia River’s bank.

A person who claimed to have witnessed the accident told reporters that the driver may have been swerving to “miss something or someone” in the roadway.

Emergency responders from multiple agencies come to the scene, by both land and water.

Because there are no access roads along this part of Marine Drive, officials closed down the road to all traffic from NE 33rd to 122nd Avenue.

Crews from the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Major Crash Team, Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Dive Team, and Portland Fire & Rescue (PP&R) converged on the 8500 block of NE Marine Drive – about a mile west of where Interstate 205 crosses it.

A bright floodlight, on the end of the extended ladder of PF&R Truck 2, helps illuminate the scene as crews work.

Crews from PF&R Parkrose Station 2 joined the other agencies at the scene.

“Firefighters arrived, and were able to see what appeared to be headlights in the water,” PF&R Public Information Officer Lt. Damon Simmons said.
“Fire crews searched along the banks to determine if anyone was able to escape the vehicle and swim to shore, but no one was found,” Simmons told East Portland News while driving in his agency vehicle, escorting reporters into the scene.

Water rescue craft serve as a platform for divers, as they look for survivors – or victims.

“Rescue boats from several agencies searched the river and confirmed that there was a vehicle in the water. The Multnomah County Sheriffs Dive Team entered the water and recovered a body from the vehicle. The individual was pronounced dead at the scene. No one else was found in the vehicle.”

PPB Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson later announced, “Investigators believe that the deceased was driving her car eastbound on Marine Drive and either swerved or drifted off of the roadway into the river.”

A large tow truck prepares to pull the submerged car out of the Columbia River.

Divers recovered the body of a female in her 40s from the submerged vehicle, Simpson added. “The woman has been identified as 46-year-old Melissa Parke of Portland. The Medical Examiner will conduct an autopsy on Saturday to determine the causes of death.”

The crash remains under investigation.

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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