Baker city , OR : 12 People were injured after 26-vehicle pileup Major crash at intersection 84 on Saturday ,January 17th 2015
Icy conditions contributed to a major crash involving about 26 vehicles, many of them semi-trucks, east of Baker City and closed a large section of Interstate 84 on Saturday, according to Oregon State Police and Oregon Department of Transportation officials.
The crash injured 12 people, two seriously. All of them were taken to hospitals for treatment, OSP said. Originally, police said four people were injured but increased that number after further investigation.
Two of the vehicles were transporting hazardous materials, police said. Hazmat crews responded. They found nothing had leaked from the vehicles.
Police said the crash happened just before 5 a.m. when vehicles drove onto black ice and collided. In all, between 50 and 70 vehicles were involved in the crash or snarled in the mess.
A family who stopped to help described a horrific scene of mangled metal, spilled diesel fuel on the icy freeway engulfed in fog, and injured truckers, bleeding.
“There was a guy that was saying, ‘Help me! Help me!’ And my daughter brought him (a truck driver) down, and we put him in the front of our suburban. And (he) was bleeding from his arm, leg and his ankle,” said Jolynn Stevenson, who was moving her daughter, Rachel Lindsey and her two sons, from Seattle to Utah.
Her husband, Rodney, feared the worst as more crashes could be heard along the freeway.
“I was scared to death because we kept hearing crunches of tractor trailer and, you know, there weren’t many cars out,” he said. “It was just – the crunches were so loud. I will never get rid of that noise.”
Rodney used flashlights to try to slow down oncoming traffic before emergency crews arrived.
Rachel said she gave the truck driver her phone because no one else had service.
“He was just like, ‘Help me! Help me!’ And I was like what do you need? What do you need? And he was like, ‘I need a shoulder.’ So he shifts his weight on my shoulder.’”
She used her favorite blankets and towels to help stop the man’s bleeding.
“He was a big man,” Rodney said. “I gave him a shoulder to help him to my suburban, and we only had the one seat we could put him in.
“I don’t know if we’ll ever get all the blood out of the car.”
Rachel took stunning photographs of the wreck and shared them with KATU News. They showed tractor trailer trucks torn to pieces with parts of engines, glass and cargo scattered about.
One photograph showed the front end of a truck torn apart with the guts of its engine shattered into unrecognizable form. A single shoe sat a short distance away in the foreground.
The family helped people for 40 minutes until emergency crews arrived.
"I'm not ever going to forget the man that I just sat there and held his hand and helped try and keep him happy and talking," Rachel said.
The family eventually got back on the road. They later pulled over to replace a driver side mirror broken when they were initially trying to squeeze through the wreckage. The U-Haul they were towing also sustained some damage.
Eastbound lanes were closed for most of the day after the accident. Late Saturday night, crews reopened one lane.
Westbound lanes in Ontario were also closed for some time to help emergency responders. In the afternoon, hazmat crews gave the OK for the backed up westbound traffic to begin moving past the area. Officials then reopened the freeway to westbound traffic after all the non-disabled vehicles from the eastbound lanes were cleared.
The eastbound lane closure extended through Pendleton, La Grande and Baker City, according to ODOT. The agency advised travelers to bypass I-84 in eastern Oregon.
12 injured in 26-vehicle pileup on I-84 in eastern Oregon