Highway 20 – Victims identified inside vehicle on its top in Yaquina River milepost 17. Both OSU students.
Victims: Abigail Emerson, 21 of Roseburg and Christopher Kazanski, 24 of Madison, Wisconsin.
A young couple were killed Sunday morning when their Chevy Impala plunged into the cold Yaquina River nine miles east of Toledo. Witnesses say the car was headed eastbound on Highway 20 in a notoriously dangerous curve just west of Eddyville, when it began fishtailing – almost hitting an oncoming car – and plunged over a 20 foot embankment into the cold waters of the Yaquina River where it came to rest on its top.
Witnesses tried to get to the young couple inside but were unable to reach them. Arriving emergency responders attached a line and pulled the vehicle onto its right side and broke out the driver’s side window and opened the door. Inside they found 21 year old Abigail Emerson of Roseburg and 24 year old Christopher Kazanski of Madison, Wisconsin, unconscious. Both were quickly pulled out and loaded aboard an awaiting ambulance.
Vigorous CPR was administered enroute to the trauma center in Corvallis. CPR was continued even though there were probably no obvious vital signs. It is common for “cold water drownings” to be reversed by aggressive CPR as the body warms up. Cold water causes the body to shut down to its most basic functions – sort of a coma-like state. Young children have been revived after 20 minutes submerged in very cold water.
Unfortunately for the young couple on Sunday, the water may not have been cold enough to trigger the body’s defenses. Both arrived dead on arrival at the trauma center in Corvallis. Both were OSU students.
It is precisely these kinds of accidents that are so common along this very dangerous stretch of Highway 20. ODOT is building a bypass around this treacherous area. A new, wider, and safer road will be open for motorists in the Fall of 2016.