Driver off 100′ embankment near Tidewater rescued by Lincoln County Rope Team – Steven Kittle, 61, rescued
A 61-year old Steven Kittle of Waldport, driving with a specially modified Toyota Siena that lets him drive from a wheel chair, ran off the edge of East Canal Road south of Tidewater early Monday morning and rode his Toyota Siena van down at least 100 feet, just shy of the water below. Rescuers say his van stopped just short of a small drop off overlooking the cold waters of the Alsea River.
When rescuers reached Kittle they found that his seat belt and wheel chair anchors had held up through the ordeal and that he was miraculously not injured, although he said he had a few pains – but who wouldn’t after such a wild ride. Kittle said the bottom of his windshield had fogged up and he lost sight of the road edge, and over he went.
The order of the photos shows crews arriving on scene, preparing the rope and pulley apparatus, the sled going down, the rescuers down near river level preparing the victim for the ride back up, the rope pulling mechanical-advantage slack that reached at least 100 feet at a time, the rescuers slogging the near-vertical climb back up and the final re-arrival at the road. A fire fighter is seen talking to the victim who appeared hearty and hale despite his brush with death.
The rope rescue personnel came from Siletz, Toledo, Newport and Central Coast (Waldport) with Yachats Fire and Rescue manning the Central Coast Station in case other calls came in.
An Oregon State Police Trooper and a Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputy were among the first ones that managed to get themselves down the steep embankment to the van and to ascertain the driver’s condition. They had been on the look-out the man who was was overdue from running errands earlier in the day. One of the officers came around a bend on East Canal Road and saw muddy tracks leaving the pavement and broken brush all the way to the bottom of the embankment. They knew somebody was down there. There certainly was, trapped inside the van.
The rescue operation started at around 1am, and finished up at 4:00am. Monday will be a groggy day for these gentlemen who will get little or no sleep before their day begins anew.