CharlieMC (charliemc) wrote,
CharlieMC
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White Salmon in the Morning -- Fatal Car Accident in the Afternoon

Marilyn let me sleep in -- nice of her, but we were late getting away! We were driving up the Columbia River Gorge to cross into Washington state and attend Angel's show at the library in White Salmon. We were afraid we'd be late, but we got there just in time!

I guess TIMING is everything, by the way...

Angel put on his usual entertaining show. He had a big crowd of children and parents and we all laughed and laughed. Loads of fun!

After that we went to the White Salmon Bakery and had coffee and goodies. They have part of the room set up as the bakery and you can watch the baker rolling the dough! And there are bowls of dough rising and a fabulous oven! Delicious and entertaining. And we had a lovely visit with Angel before heading back to Portland again.

Then we had agreed to meet Jeff at a bar on Marine Drive. Traffic was awful! (I'll avoid say it was 'murder' or a 'killer' under the circumstances -- but both sprang to mind.)

We were chatting away and suddenly a car was FLYING THROUGH THE AIR, struck by a huge semi truck! It went directly in front of us and over the embankment. The first thing Marilyn asked was "Did he go into the river?" (Marine Drive is called that because it runs right beside the river.)

Then we're both staring at that truck heading DIRECTLY TOWARD US -- with traffic surrounding us and no place to go!!!

He had swerved to try and avoid the first 'flying' car, that turned in front of him out of nowhere. Then he hits the car directly in front of us and we both brace ourselves, sure he'll hit us and the car behind us will do the same.

And somehow -- somehow -- it doesn't happen. It's a miracle. Marilyn immediately starts to try and reach 911 -- which was extremely frustrating and difficult to do! I'm out of the car and looking down at the car that flew over the embankment. Five men -- other drivers (witnesses is how the news referred to them) scramble down the slippery hillside -- I don't even try it. I watch while they go down and are trying to get the man out of his smashed car (with the airbag deployed). They have no tools, so they literally grab the frame and bend it to release him, then move him to the ground and begin performing CPR.

One of them calls to me to make sure someone is calling 911. I know of four people by that time who are trying (and I'm sure there were more), so I tell them. Another woman from some car behind us somewhere comes over sobbing and crying and on her phone. She hands it off to someone down the side to talk to them.

I check on the Asian woman who was in the car in front of us and was hit (holding her arm to calm her). She's fine, although her car was totaled (her airbag did not deploy, so she was able to get out of the car on her own). I'm trying to keep people from stepping in the gasoline that's EVERYWHERE. We're nervous, as the embankment is covered in DRY GRASS. And it's a lot of gas, spreading down the highway. People are wandering everywhere.

When I was getting out of the car a guy on a motorcycle came up behind me -- Marilyn was afraid he'd hit me. He was one of the men who went down the side to help. For all I know the man was dead on impact. I guess I'll never know that. But I heard more than one person down there saying he was dead. Still, they kept doing CPR on him. And they kept calling up to ME and asking "Where are they?" "Are they coming?" Expecting professional help that didn't come and didn't come...

Finally I just step in the puddles of gas so I can check on the truck driver. He's looking all over the inside of his cab and finally comes down to talk to me. He's obsessed with telling me that he had lost his bluetooth and couldn't find it (he says that several times, as he's obviously in shock). I ask him how he is and he says he's fine, but he references the man below. And I tell him it wasn't his fault (it wasn't). And he says, "The car came out of nowhere." I held his arm and tried to comfort him.

A fire engine finally shows up. I check on Marilyn and get my iPhone which was in my purse. We didn't think to take photos through the window of how close everything was! But I take a couple of shots after that. I gesture the emergency guys down to where the car is.

A police car arrives and I try to talk to the policeman and let him know I was a witness -- one of the two closest to the accident (Marilyn being the other one!). But he ignores me.

Then I try to talk to a fireman (actually, a woman), who also ignores me. She asks if I was hit, and then orders me to go get in my car and stay there.

I'm a witness. I want to make sure the truck driver is not blamed. I can't get the officials to listen to me. I was calm and I was reasonable. But I was ignored.

I go back to get into the car. But it's NOT THERE. So I phone Marilyn (thankfully I now have my phone!). She tells me they forced her to move and she's now down 148. So I start walking that way.

Marilyn's concern with contacting 911 was not just to help the injured man -- but to get traffic control there. There was a TON OF TRAFFIC and people were so busy trying to get around the accident that she was afraid we'd end up with another one! Plus we were trapped right there, directly near the accident. Nobody knew if there could end up being a fire, explosion or what...

It's the beginning of a holiday weekend. We're in traffic heading to Washington (tons of people live in Washington and work in Portland and have to head home each night -- the traffic is always terrible, even without an accident).

We're crawling along in bumper-to-bumper traffic. We've let Jeff know what happened -- he keeps saying he's so glad we're okay, over and over.

It takes us two hours after that to get home again.

We both share at Social Media (the fastest way to let friends and family know). I also call June and Jim and tell them about it.

Later sister Sue calls -- her daughter-in-law Tammy has seen it on Facebook.

We hear about the accident on TV. Of course they've got the details ALL WRONG. After all, nobody would listen to me. I still want to reach out to the police at some point, but don't know if it even matters. You can't force people to listen if they don't want to. I'd get it if I'd been hysterical like the crying woman (who never did get herself under control). But I was there helping and perfectly calm the whole time.

It was a relief to get safely home.

Interesting start to our much-needed vacation. Poor Marilyn! I don't know how she could face the horrible drive home after that experience. She's so courageous. Traffic is awful here.

I just saw the story at OregonLive and people are automatically blaming the truck driver (as I was worried they would do). (sigh)

I guess there's nothing much more to share today after all of this.

We're thinking we'll treat ourselves to raspberries and coffee now.
Tags: 2017, accident, angel, car, death, facebook, fatality, holiday-weekend, jeff, june-2017, june-and-jim, marilyn, marine-drive, news, oregonlive.com, sister-sue, social-media, tammy, traffic, tv, vacation, white-salmon, witness, witnesses
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