I-84 crash cleanup continues in eastern Oregon as public marvels at one man's … – OregonLive.com
Cleanup and investigation of a massive tangle-up on Interstate 84 in eastern Oregon continued Sunday, a day after more than 25 vehicles and 100 people collided in icy, foggy conditions.
At least 12 people were injured, but none were killed. The crash left one Tri-Cities, Washington, area man pinned between two semis in his crumpled Chevy pickup truck — and most who saw the picture of his situation are likely shaking their heads in disbelief that he survived.
“I still can’t believe no one died in that,” said Oregon State Police Sgt. Kyle Hove, who responded to the early Saturday morning pileup.
Hove said the man — farmer Kaleb Whitby — was shaken up Sunday but trying to recover from the trauma of the crash, though he walked away from it with only a couple of scratches. “I think reality is setting in for him today,” Hove said.
Hove wasn’t able to provide updated conditions midday Sunday on seven people who were hospitalized.
Hove said police are performing a crash reconstruction using a digital system, but it will take at least a week to complete.
“They’ll be able to piece together a visual on where the vehicles landed,” Hove said. “They’ve been taking statements from drivers and witnesses and will be able to paint a clear picture of what occurred. We expect good results from this — it’s a very thorough investigation.”
The Oregon Department of Transportation is overseeing cleanup of the eastbound stretch of highway about 33 miles east of Baker City. One lane is open to allow vehicles through.
Hove said numerous semi-tractor trailers that were involved and disabled need to be unloaded and removed. Crews will transfer their contents to other trailers, and that could take a few days, officials said.
“Just imagine the semi loads — they weigh several thousand pounds, they’re very unstable,” Hove said. “They have to offload them and tow them. It does take time.”
The crash, which trapped over 50 vehicles, closed down more than 160 miles of eastbound lanes from Pendleton to Ontario. ODOT officials advised travelers to watch for crews and equipment in the closed lane of the eastbound freeway near the crash site.
Twelve people were injured and treated at Saint Alphonsus Medical Center in Baker City for various injuries, hospital officials said. Six arrived by ambulance and six by third party, according to Oregon State Police. Two remained there and were in stable condition as of Saturday afternoon.
One patient was transferred to OHSU Hospital in Portland with serious injuries, and four patients – one of them in serious condition – were transferred to St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, Idaho, according to state police. Two more patients were brought to the Grande Ronde Hospital in La Grande for treatment.
None of the injuries were believed to be life threatening.
Perhaps the most amazing of any survival tale to come out of the crash was that of Whitby. His story — and the image of him in his crumpled truck wreckage wedged between the two semis — has been shared by news outlets across the country, including the New York Daily News, CNN, weather.com, and Road And Track.
And commenters on OregonLive.com and The Oregonian’s Facebook page have been equally stunned at the image, snapped by fellow trucker Sergi Karplyuk, who had come to help Whitby and asked if he could take while help came.
And Facebook commenters were equally amazed:
— Andre Meunier