Driver pinned-in after car flies off Holgate Boulevard

Everyone who witnessed how the car landed said they were astonished that the driver survived …

Police, fire, and paramedic vehicles converge on SE Holgate Boulevard near SE 135th Avenue after a car flies – and flips to a crash landing.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

A single-car accident both astounded and flabbergasted the some-60 Powellhurst-Gilbert neighbors who came out to see what had occurred, just before 11:00 p.m. on February 20.

Just north ,on SE Holgate Boulevard at SE 135th Avenue – it’s just a short alley leading to a former Powell Valley Water District pump house – a white Ford Focus SE was wedged into a 12-foot wide space between the blockhouse building and the eight foot high steel chain-link fence.

Firefighters get out their gear, ready to cut the crash victim out of the crumpled car.

“It’s pretty obvious that the car didn’t drive or skid into that position,” said neighbor Floyd Wilkerson. A noise outside his outer East Portland apartment window had alerted him to the wreck.

“There was a huge ‘boom!’, and then a couple loud bangs, and then a big ‘thump’ before it went quiet,” Wilkerson told East Portland News. I couldn’t believe it; there was a car ‘parked’ on its side between the fence and the building!”

Using pry bars and power tools, firefighters remove the roof of the car, and prepare to remove the driver. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

“Upon arrival, firefighters found a vehicle that had flipped multiple times and come to rest with the patient pinned in the vehicle,” said Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) spokesman Dan Watson.

Information gathered at the scene indicated that the female driver, alone in the car, was conscious, and communicated with emergency first responders as the crew on PF&R Truck 7 used their Holmatro Rescue Tools to cut the roof off the battered car.

Strapped to a litter, emergency services workers carry the victim away from the crash scene …

… And, the injured person is then rolled on a gurney to the awaiting ambulance.

Firefighters and paramedics carried the crash victim on a litter from the extrication site about a half-block to the roadway, where she was transferred to a gurney; and then into an AMR ambulance transported to a local hospital for treatment of traumatic injuries.

After the victim has been transported for medical care, firefighters begin to retrieve their stabilizing and rescue equipment.

After the ambulance left, Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division officers and East Precinct officers began their crash investigation.

An officer said the vehicle was traveling at a “very high rate of speed” eastbound on SE Holgate Boulevard. Where the road bends, the driver did not make the curve.

An officer tapes off the opening of an underground utility vault, thought to have launched the car into the air, after it struck it at a high rate of speed.

The car traveled up an earthen embankment, where it collided with the wooden cover over of an in-ground utility vault, ripping off the front bumper and some of the car’s running gear.

After taking measurements, it was estimated that the car was airborne for 60 to 70 feet. The vehicle achieved sufficient height to clear the eight foot high chain-link, barbed-wire topped fence.

At this time, no official statement relating the suspected cause of this accident; it remains under investigation.

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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