Multiple crashes on I-84 contribute to traffic backup Thursday

TROOPER Zach Bohince talks with passengers in the van that collided with another vehicle Thursday, westbound on Interstate 84.

Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea
TROOPER Zach Bohince talks with passengers in the van that collided with another vehicle Thursday, westbound on Interstate 84.

Westbound traffic came to a virtual stop for an hour Thursday after two crashes a mile or so west of Mosier, and a third at the same location eastbound.

Cars were backed up for several miles in high-90s temperatures. Only one injury was reported in the three accidents.

It started at 1:39 p.m. when Officer Dana Journey of Columbia River Intertribal Fisheries Enforcement stopped to help a driver who had gone off the road heading east at milepost 68, according to Sgt. Kaipo Raiser with Oregon State Police, which handled the accident report. Trooper Zach Bohince responded to the scene.

Journey was heading west when he witnessed a Volkswagen Beetle leave the road and crash with the metal fence that separated the interstate and railroad right-of-way areas.

According to Reiser, Journey left his vehicle in the left (A) lane, emergency lights on, and hopped over the barrier to help the driver, Martin Ashley of Portland.

“He had stopped to render aid,” Raiser said. “As to why he stopped in the fast lane against the jersey barrier, I am not sure. For OSP, it is not common practice,” Raiser said. (Intertribal officials could be reached for comment before deadline.)

At that point, a rented van driven by Steven Gast of Cascade Locks, with seven passengers aboard, swerved to avoid Journey’s vehicle and hit the guardrail, struck a commercial vehicle and spun out. One passenger in the van was transported for treatment at a hospital.

The impact ruptured the fuel tank on the commercial vehicle, which was towed from the scene.

Raiser said a third accident, involving a black SUV, happened shortly after the two milepost 68 crashes, and likely contributed to the traffic backup, but he did not have details at press time.

Neither Ashley nor a teenaged passenger were hurt. Ashley’s car, a Mini Cooper, was pinned underneath the metal fence wires.

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