Lincoln City: Highway 18 was CLOSED overnight, 3.5 miles east of 101 due to fatal traffic accident – Reopened around noon
10:06am Wednesday Update
Oregon State Police has released the names of the two men aboard the van. The driver has been identified as Shaypher Lee M. HENDRICKS, age 22 from Ellensburg, Wa. HENDRICKS is currently at Legacy Emmanuel in Portland for treatment of serious injuries. The passenger has been identified as Austin M. MAYHAK, age 27, from Union Gap, WA.
A logging truck driver and a co-worker headed west on Highway 18 just east of Otis spotted a brightly burning object up ahead and pulled over. As they drew closer they found a U-Haul van was off the road and into a tree. Both men approached the flaming truck in hopes of being able to pull anyone inside to safety.
They found a driver and passenger inside with the passenger screaming for help. His foot was caught in the wreckage. The truck driver ran around to the driver’s side finding the driver trapped and slumped over the wheel. The flames were very hot so he went back around to help the passenger and found that the passenger had freed his foot. So his rescuer pulled the passenger up to the road to safety. The passenger blurted out “help my friend!” But by then the van was fully engulfed in flame and there was no way for the logging good samaritans to even get close to it. In fact there had already been one huge explosion and they were worried there might be another.
North Lincoln Fire Rescue arrived on scene and began putting the fire out. Several rescuers loaded the passenger aboard a REACH medical chopper which flew him to a trauma center in Portland.
The smoldering wreckage of the van was later searched and they found the remains of the driver’s body.
Alcohol is suspected as being a contributing cause of the accident according to OSP Troopers.
Fire crews applied absorbent materials and chemicals on the roadway to begin cleaning up the mess. Around noon the highway was back open for normal traffic.
Late this afternoon OSP said the driver was saved and the passenger was the one that died. The eyewitness who pulled the survivor away from the wreckage said he was the passenger.