Lately, the city of Portland has faced troubling statistics involving traffic reports. We are ranked as the 9th city with the worst congestion in the US, have some of the worst drivers, and for the past two years our fatal accident rate has escalated. 2015 saw a sharp uptick in traffic fatalities, with 37 traffic fatalities as opposed to 21 the previous year. 10 of these were pedestrian fatalities, 2 were bicycle fatalities, 5 were motorcycle fatalities, and 20 were motorist fatalities. A motorist is defined as an occupant of a car or a truck by the 2015 Portland Traffic Safety Report.
Many of these accidents involved the usual factors: drunk driving, distracted driving, speeding and overall recklessness; yet these accidents account for a small fraction of the total collisions reported in 2015, for which there is still no official count. In 2014, the Oregon Traffic Summary totaled 11,283 collisions in Portland alone. Considering recent trends, the 2015 count will be significantly higher.
Car accidents take place in a variety of surprising ways. Here are our top picks for most bizarre traffic incidents in Portland last year.
Reckless Driver Crashes into 2 Buildings
On one fateful November night, a young male motorist sped through a whirlwind of stunts before smashing his car into a house, hitting a tree, and then crashing into a shop building on Southeast Jenne Road. 24-year old Jesse Allen McCormick was speeding westbound on Southeast McKinley Road when he missed a corner, crossed Jenne Road, jumped a boulder, crashed a fence, and then sideswiped the home, damaging the bedroom of a woman who had recently evacuated the room moments before the crash occurred at 2:30 am. The rollercoaster ride ended when the car crashed into a shed. It was found several feet off the ground. McCormick sustained minor injuries and has been charged with third-degree assault, criminal mischief, reckless driving, and reckless endangerment.
Semi-truck Fuel Tanker Smacks into Rail Cars, Ignites Fire
In mid-December, a commercial fuel tanker truck strayed from Highway 30, descended down an embankment, and rolled over, igniting a massive fuel fire alongside the highway after it struck a series of stationary rail cars situated east of the St. John’s Bridge. The fire emitted dark smoke that covered the area for miles and burned for over an hour before firefighters could fully contain it. Police identified the truck driver as Andrew John Lambert, a 41-year old man from Vancouver, WA. The driver did not survive the crash and likely died upon impact. Lambert worked for Kenan Advantage Group, a tank truck transporter company that delivers fuel and other toxic substances nationwide.
Garbage Truck Driver Severs Leg of Portland Pedestrian
In a particularly gruesome event one March morning, a garbage truck driver turned onto a pedestrian despite the pedestrian legally crossing at a crosswalk while the walk signal flashed. Allied Waste Systems driver Eric Arthur McChesney, 44, turned onto Morrison Street from 5th Avenue and struck pedestrian Scott Raymond Busch, 57, and severed one of his legs in the process.
Following the accident, Busch filed a $37 million lawsuit after enduring an amputation above the knee. The driver was accused of illegally turning into the pedestrian, driving too fast, driving a commercial truck without a license, failing to obey a traffic control device, and failing to stop and allow a pedestrian to cross. Allied Waste Systems was also dragged into the suit for failing to properly train and audit employees to ensure their commercial licenses were up to date.
Busch suffered other injuries besides an amputated leg, including broken ribs and injuries to his surviving leg, chest, and torso. The suit sought $15 million for medical expenses, lost wages, and the need for the family to hire a caretaker. In May 2016 a Multnomah County jury awarded Mr. Busch $13.5 million and his wife $400,000 for loss of consortium.
Drunk Woman Carjacks Twice, Crashes into Starbucks
A woman caused quite a stir at multiple locations one July afternoon when she arrived outside Hooper Detox Stabilization Center. When 38-year old Brooke Defrees prompted Hooper employees to call police by banging on the doors, she carjacked a vehicle and rammed it into the side of a Starbucks drive-through window several blocks away.
Hooper Detox staff placed the call around 12:30 pm to alert police of the disturbance. Central and East Precinct officers watched as Defrees walked away upon being asked to leave the parking lot by Hooper staff. The police were leaving the scene when they noticed a disturbance on the road up ahead. They heard she had pulled a driver out of a red Toyota Solano at NE Grand Ave and Couch Street and kept driving north on Grande Avenue. Officers responded late and could not catch up with her in time to prevent Defrees from pulling into the driveway the wrong way, crashing near the window, and attempting to carjack yet another vehicle that was already at the window.
Brooke Defrees was cited on allegations of third-degree robbery and unlawful use of a motor vehicle. Unfortunately, Defrees has a long history with police and has pulled a similar stunt before. In May, she was convicted of the same charges regarding yet another carjacking. Rather than jail time, she received a sentence of a three year long supervised probation and was ordered to receive treatment for alcohol abuse.
Our justice system has proved time and time again to make questionable decisions. We cannot rely on it to keep our streets safe from repeat traffic offenders such as Defrees. What you can count on is the reliable service of Rizklaw to be there in your time of need following a car accident or personal injury. Call (503) 245-5677 for a free legal consultation.