UPDATE: Newport: Runaway pickup collides with two vehicles at Harney and 20 – careens off into the woods
Update: Driver of the pickup identified as Larry Merrell, 71, of Newport. Cause of the accident was Mr. Merrell suffering a medical issue while approaching the light at Harney and Highway 20. Driver of the first car hit, Misty Vanderburgh of Waldport was treated for minor injuries at PCH. Driver of the third vehicle, James Hodge of Otter Rock, was not injured.
It was shortly before noon that a pickup speeding down Highway 20 toward the stop light at Harney failed to slow down. A woman stopped at the light in a KIA SUV saw the approaching pickup, and gunned her motor to get out of the way. The oncoming pickup hit her right rear, causing the KIA to lurch forward and the pickup to start spinning in the middle of the intersection. The pickup clipped the left rear of another SUV that was stopped for the light heading east.
The pickup continued spinning and then left the pavement and headed off into the woods southwest of the intersection, plowing through the brush, narrowly missing a transient encampment below. Fortunately no one was ‘home’ at the time. The pick slammed into a big Sitka Spruce and finally stopped – but its rear wheels continued to spin loudly.
The driver of the second car that was hit ran down the path and found the elderly gentlemen disoriented. The witness reached over and tried to turn the key off, but he couldn’t make the ignition work. The motor just kept racing and the wheels kept spinning, filling the area with smoke. So he pulled the victim out of the pickup for fear of a fire and guided him away from the vehicle.
Soon fire rescue were on scene to take command.
The victim was loaded into an ambulance for transport to PCH. REACH was summoned to fly the victim to the trauma center in Corvallis.
Injuries to the first driver, who was transported to PCH, were thought to be minor. Driver of the 2nd car hit, who pulled the elderly gentleman out of his pickup, was not injured. He didn’t want his name used in the story, but we will say he’s an engineer employed by the county.
No word yet on the residency of the elderly gentleman nor what went wrong just uphill prior to the accident. Whether it was a medical issue or his accelerator stuck (or anything else) is still being sorted out.