‘High speed’ crash kills two in Wilkes neighborhood

Officials say it’s no mystery why a car veered off NE 162nd Avenue, smashed into a tree, and careened down into a water-filled gully. The tragic results were deadly, in spite of emergency crews’ best efforts

Wreckage is strewn on NE 162nd Avenue and NE Fargo Street, following what officials call a very-high-speed single-vehicle collision.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Storms, bringing wind-whipped heavy rain, descended on outer East Portland on March 12. But officials say they don’t know if the weather contributed to a tragic accident that occurred that afternoon.

“At 4:15 p.m., firefighters from Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) and Gresham Fire & Emergency Services were dispatched to the report of a single car accident at NE 162nd Avenue at NE Fargo Street,” began PF&R spokesman Peter DelVal.

Portland and Gresham fire and rescue crews scramble down into a gully to provide emergency medical assistance, and to extricate trapped victims from the smashed vehicle. PF&R image

“Witnesses reported seeing a vehicle crash into a large tree before coming to rest in a deep ditch filled with water on the side of the road.”

While firefighters worked to rescue the multiple crash victims trapped inside the car, submerged in more than a foot of standing water, Portland Police Bureau (PPB) officers and command staff cordoned off the area.

After a deceased victim is found, a Multnomah County Medical Examiner is called to the scene.

“One of the occupants is deceased,” reported PPB Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson, shortly after the accident occurred. “The PPB Traffic Division’s Major Crash Team is responding to conduct an investigation.”

Meanwhile, the crew of PF&R Station’s Truck 7 worked with Gresham Fire’s Truck 71, wielding their Holmatro Rescue Tools to cut two patients out of the wreckage of the car, DelVal said. “Other firefighter/paramedics administered patient care, and maintained safety at the scene. Because of the depth of the ditch and the steep incline, firefighters used low-angle rope rescue techniques to get the patients up to the road, to the awaiting ambulances.”

According to PF&R Battalion Chief Kevin Shanders, “This was a very severe crash, requiring multiple resources and specialty technical rescue techniques. The great teamwork and communication between both fire departments achieved the best possible outcome in a difficult situation.”

District officers share information with investigators from the Police Bureau’s traffic investigators.

Then, Sgt. Simpson returned to share more bad news: “A second person this traffic crash has died. Two others have been transported to area hospitals.”

Later that evening, after the PPB crash investigators finished their examination, Simpson relayed the results. “They determined that the vehicle was northbound on NE 162nd Avenue, at a high rate of speed, when the driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a ditch.

“Witnesses who spoke with officers estimated the vehicle’s speed to be between 70 and 100 miles an hour,” Simpson reported.

After doing their best to save all the crash victims, firefighters depart the scene.
“The two people killed this crash,” Simpson said the following day, “have been identified as 56-year-old Larry Gene Williams [driver] of North Portland, and 32-year-old Latasha Simone Kinney [rear passenger] of Southeast Portland. The other two occupants, who suffered traumatic injuries, have been identified as 51-year-old Rebecca Jones of Southeast Portland, and 25-year-old Christopher James Gould of Southeast Portland.”

Gould and Jones remain in serious condition an area hospital, recovering from injuries suffered in the crash, Simpson concluded.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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