Red-light-runner demolishes two cars – on 82nd Ave. of Roses

The victim’s car was damaged so badly; rescuers had to use the “jaws of life” to free her. The young man accused of causing the wreck says he’s not guilty. Read this story, and see what you think …

The first responders on scene couldn’t get the victim out – but the crew from PF&R Truck 2 popped the door quickly – just before we arrived on scene – using the “Hurst Tools” their rig always carries. The two tools are on the ground, on the right side of this photo.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Just after high noon on Wednesday, May 7, a car hurtles south on NE 82nd Avenue of Roses, down the hill from Madison High School. It nears the intersection at NE Tillamook Street, and doesn’t show signs of slowing.

Another car, driving on eastbound of NE Tillamook Street, along the Banfield complex, enters the intersection. It is broadsided, in what cops call a “T-bone” crash, and momentum carries it to the southeast corner of the intersection, up the curb, and into a tree and street lamp post.

Before firefighters remove the victim from the vehicle, they make sure she is stabilized.

Rapid emergency response
On the police radio, we hear Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) Truck 12 being dispatched to the wreck. “It looks pretty bad,” a dispatcher’s voice crackles on the radio.

As we head toward the scene, we hear, “This is going to be a pin-in situation.” This means a vehicle is so badly damaged, the PF&R crew can’t reach the accident victim using the hardened-steel pry-bars all of the rigs carry. “It looks like the victim is doing OK, but we can’t get her out,” a firefighter reports on the radio.

“Truck 2 has been dispatched and is on the way,” radios back the 9-1-1 Center operator. This is good news for the victim – Truck 2 is one of the rigs that carries the “Hurst Tool” – also known as the “Jaws of Life”. It’s a hydraulic machine that can snip through the metal frame of a vehicle. With another attachment, it can spread metal pieces – like the car door and door frame – apart quickly, with thousand of pounds of pressure.

After using one of two Hurst Tool attachments, a firefighter carries it back to the truck.

Victim released in minutes
By the time we arrive on scene, we hear the Hurst Tool power pack running – and the distinctive “pop” of a door being pried off the vehicle. In the hands of skilled PF&R firefighters, the Hurst Tool has done its job.

Firefighters first prepare the victim for transport to a hospital; then carefully ease the victim from her vehicle, place her on a gurney, and lift her into an ambulance bound for the hospital – and a medical evaluation.

A Portland Police Bureau East Precinct officer points out how the “side curtain airbags” had popped open – perhaps saving the victim’s life.

Police officers say this car was originally heading the opposite way on NE 82nd Ave. of Roses – it spun around after t-boning other car in the intersection

Driver claims innocence
A 19-year-old man – he says he’s the driver of the car that struck the cross-bound vehicle – tells us his story. “I was just driving down 82nd Avenue and I went to a green light. As I was going through [the intersection at NE Tillamook Street], this car pulled out and I hit the car on the side. It pulled out in front of me.”

After taking statements from witnesses to the wreck, a police officer disagrees with the young man’s assessment of the situation.

“I took witness statements that say the young man, driving the green car, ran a red light,” says as she continues writing her official report. “When he ran the red light, he side struck the silver car as it traveled eastward, through the intersection on Tillamook Street, on a green light.”

Both police officers and firefighters agreed that this driver wouldn’t be going to the hospital had the driver of the other car stopped for the red light.

Take time to stop
A PF&R lieutenant from Station 2 talks with us – off the record – and says, “I’m glad the victim’s car had the new side-wall airbags. It may have saved her life. I’m glad there wasn’t any trauma injury here today – but I sure can’t understand why people are in too great a hurry to stop for red lights.”

Because this wreck isn’t categorized as a “trauma crash” – the PPB’s Crash Team isn’t called to scene – according to current city policy, there won’t be an official investigation.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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