Crash at county building proves fatal

An elderly man driving a gold Subaru Legacy crashed into a GMC Sierra truck parked in front of the Hood River County Administration building at 601 State St. on Thursday, at 4:04 p.m.

The solo driver, who was transported to Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital, was later pronounced dead. His name is still being withheld pending full family notification as of press time.

According to County Commissioner Bob Benton, who witnessed the crash, the driver was heading downhill going east on State Street going relatively slow, at about 15 to 20 miles per hour, when he veered into the parked truck, owned by County Commissioner Ron Rivers. A third parked vehicle was also hit when River’s truck was compelled forward.

The driver’s front end was crushed upon impact. Within seconds, Benton and another man rushed to the vehicle to offer aid.

“I could see that something wasn’t right,” said Benton, who along with the other Good Samaritan, peered into the vehicle, seeing the man in a slumped position. Describing what he saw, Benton felt that the man’s movements could have been tied to a stroke or heart attack in progress. Police reports are still underway and confirmation is not available as to any medical cause for the crash.

“This wasn’t a violent crash,” said Benton.

Within seconds, additional passersby stopped to assist the injured man, including some staff from the 911 emergency response call center and others working in the county building. A man on a bicycle and the original witness Benton identified pulled the man from the vehicle and began CPR.

Marita Hadden, Hood River County 911-dispatch director, was one of the first from her county administration office to arrive on the scene, armed with a defibrillator.

“We were here so fast; we heard the crash inside the building,” said Hadden, “But there was already a passerby who started CPR.” A total of five off-duty or non-emergency personnel from the 911 office provided immediate assistance.

The 911 operators still on duty at the dispatch center directed Benton to control traffic around the scene and alerted emergency responders.

Hood River Fire and EMS crews arrived on the scene immediately along with Hood River Police officers Don Cheli and Erin Mason, taking control of the scene and traffic flow.

Continuous CPR was administered by EMS staff who then transferred the victim to a gurney and attempted to stabilize him for transportation.

“This is so sad,” said Hadden. “We deal with this every day at 911 but when its outside your office it is a whole other matter.”

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