Spectacular smash-up halts SE Powell rush hour traffic

See why firefighters had to use their Holmatro rescue tools to get this driver out of her rolled-over SUV …

Looking at this wreck in the Lents Neighborhood, it’s amazing that the driver – and her dog – survived the crash.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Traffic on outer SE Powell Boulevard can run slowly – especially during the evening rush hour. But on Monday, July 26, just before 5:30 p.m., the traffic came to a complete standstill.

Drivers trying to head east from the I-205 freeway, or west from SE 122nd Avenue, found themselves being rerouted away because a banged-up SUV had rolled at least once, knocked off a fire hydrant, and ended up flipped on the lawn just north of the Portland Memory Garden at SE 101st Avenue.

Exactly why this accident took place isn’t known – but the result was that SE Powell Blvd. was closed down for hours while police investigated the accident – and wrecker crews cleaned up the mess.

“Our crews on both Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) Station 7 Truck and Engine were called to the scene on the report of a rollover accident,” PF&R Battalion Chief C3, Rich Stenhouse, told us, as we looked at the crumpled vehicle.

“We had information that someone was trapped in a vehicle,” Stenhouse continued. “It was upgraded to a ‘pin-in’.”

PF&R crews had to remove the door of this vehicle to extract the driver.

Crews pulled down the small-but-powerful Holmatro rescue tool (another manufacturer calls their older, heavier unit the “Jaws of Life”) from Reserve Truck 7, and started to work. “Because the vehicle was on its top, the crew cut the hinges and popped off the door. They were able to remove and stabilize the patient.”

Witness sees tire blow out
A driver who said she was behind the now-wrecked vehicle, said that she’d noticed that the SUV appeared to have at least one flat tire. At the slight bend in the road, the SUV started “driving erratically” before it skidded, rolled, and ended upside down.

Across the street to the north, at Curtis Trailers, workers said they couldn’t see the accident occur, but they certainly heard it – describing the sound as “a big boom”. When one worker came out to see what had happened, he said he saw “a truck lying on its top, and a lot of dust in the air.”

Although the driver of this smashed SUV was taken to the hospital, she wasn’t seriously injured, police report.

Driver charged with DUII
“The female driver had two flat tires and rolled her vehicle over,” said Portland Police Bureau spokesperson Detective Mary Wheat, after examining the records of the incident. “She was taken to OHSU, but not seriously injured.”

Rescuers also removed a dog from the vehicle, Wheat told us – but the animal’s condition is unknown.

Alcohol is suspected as a factor in the accident, Wheat said. “59-year-old Deborah Baker has been charged with DUII.”

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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