Three people were sent to a hospital Thursday in what Oregon State Police termed a “violent” highway crash near Cascade Locks.
An SUV toppled over a wooded embankment near I-84 milepost 44 and caught fire, but a nearby resident extinguished the blaze and helped rescue the vehicle’s occupants.
The right-front seat passenger, Daniel Tiberio, 21, of Vancouver, Wash., suffered serious but non-life threatening injuries. He was flown by helicopter to an undisclosed Portland area hospital for medical treatment.
The driver, 18-year-old Madeline Hanel, of Parkdale, and a backseat passenger, a 17-year-old male juvenile, sustained minor injuries. An ambulance took the pair to Legacy Emmanuel Hospital for emergency care.
Shortly before 1 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 29, the 2003 Chevy Trailblazer was traveling along a curve on I-84 when it crashed into the center concrete barrier. The SUV crossed both lanes of the interstate and smashed through a guardrail, falling down a wooded ravine.
The force of the crash caused major guardrail damage and sheared a large tree off at the base, where it came to rest on top of the Trailblazer. The vehicle ground to an uncontrolled stop on the driver’s side, facing eastbound.
A nearby Cascade Locks resident, Ken Davis, 37, heard the crash and was first to arrive. He helped Hanel and the rear passenger get out of the car. He also tried to extract Tiberio from the right-front seat of the Trailblazer.
However, the vehicle caught fire near the wheel rut, OSP Sgt. Kaipo Raiser said, likely originating from the engine — and Tiberio was still trapped inside.
Out of concern that the vehicle would become fully engulfed in flames, Davis started yelling for a fire extinguisher, Raiser said. Davis was able to acquire one from a passing driver and quickly put out the blaze.
None of the vehicle’s occupants were hurt by the fire.
When Tiberio was eventually removed from the car, he was conscious and alert, Raiser explained. The man suffered a head injury that was serious but “definitely not life threatening.”
Medics transported the three patients to Portland area facilities for treatment.
Early investigation by police showed that speed was a contributing factor in this crash. OSP was still on scene around 4 p.m., and the slow lane of I-84 was blocked for several hours to allow for removal of the vehicle and the crash investigation.
That investigation was still continuing as of Friday, according to Raiser.
OSP was assisted by Cascade Locks Fire Department, Skamania County Ambulance and Oregon Department of Transportation.