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Feb-04-2010 22:36printcomments

Driver Rescued From Car Caught in Trees, Over Steep Embankment

Firefighters say the incident could have been worse if the occupant of the vehicle was not wearing his seatbelt.

Crash in Milwaukie, Oregon. Photo: Steve McAdoo Clackamas Fire
Crash in Milwaukie, Oregon. Photo: Steve McAdoo Clackamas Fire

(MILWAUKIE, Ore.) - A car that went off an embankment today in Milwaukie caught fire as a tow truck driver pulled it back up onto the roadway. The timing was good, because the driver had been in it just before that, as the vehicle hung precariously over a 75ft-100ft embankment, where it came to rest after a two car crash.

Clackamas Fire crews were dispatched to the two car accident today at 12:13 p.m. in the north bound lanes of McLoughlin Blvd just north of Park Ave in Milwaukie.

Steve McAdoo, Public Information Officer with Clackamas Fire, says they received a report that one of the vehicles involved had gone over the embankment, and was resting precariously in some trees.

"The first crew on scene found a Volkswagen Jetta sitting vertically, nose down in those trees. The person inside the car was originally reported to be a female which was incorrect. This male inside the car was buckled at the time of the accident, but had to undo his belt in order to breathe, now that he was in an awkward position."

McAdoo says undoing the belt put the driver up over his steering wheel, resting on the windshield of the vehicle. Crews did find him alert and able to communicate, but unable to get out.

"Clackamas Fire crews went to work on stabilizing the vehicle before any attempts were made at extricating the patient. This is important to keep the rescuers and patient safe, while assuring the car does not slip further down the embankment."

Crash in Milwaukie, Oregon. Photo: Steve McAdoo Clackamas Fire

Clackamas Heavy Rescue 4 was on scene, along with several other engine companies and secured the vehicle with two winches and several stabilizing struts.

McAdoo said, "After completing that important task they were able to extricate the patient safely, perform a primary assessment on the patient and get him into a waiting ambulance so he could be transported to the hospital. It appears that he has no life threatening injuries."

Clackamas Fire crews remained on scene for the safety of the tow truck drivers while they removed the teetering vehicle. The car did catch fire shortly after getting it back on four wheels, but was quickly extinguished by the fire crew on scene.

This incident could have certainly been worse if the occupant of the vehicle was not wearing his seatbelt, McAdoo said.

"Also, he luckily got caught up in some trees which kept him from ending up at the bottom of this 75ft-100ft embankment."

The driver of the other vehicle was also transported to the hospital for non-life threatening injuries.

McAdoo said he wanted to leave other drivers with this message, "Remember to always wear your seatbelt and don't be a distracted driver. Keep aware and alert at all times, it's easier to avoid being part of an accident if you're driving defensively."

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