An ODOT employee is credited with rescuing an injured man from a submerged pickup after a five-vehicle crash Tuesday afternoon along Highway 20 east of Albany. Five people were taken to the hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.
According to Oregon State Police Trooper Ray Stallsworth, around 3:25 p.m.,traffic was stopped eastbound on Highway 20 near milepost 7 for ODOT roadwork.
John L. Olson, 21, of Sisters, driving a 1996 Dodge pickup towing a flatbed trailer loaded with hay, failed to notice stopped traffic and braked hard to try to avoid a collision but didn't stop in time, Stallsworth said.
The Dodge pickup crashed into the rear of a 1970 Chevrolet pickup driven by Dean Stilwell,56, from Sweet Home, leading to a chain-reaction crash involving three other vehicles.
After the initial impact, the Chevrolet pickup collided into the back of a 2003 Dodge Caravan driven by Shirley Harrison, 81, from Albany. Stilwell's Chevrolet pickup then careened across the westbound lane and off the roadway into a bordering pond, where it became completely submerged.
An alert ODOT worker identified as Troy Elverfeld, 47, from Lebanon, saw smoke from the crash and went to the scene.
Stallsworth said Elverfeld took a metal rod from a backhoe and dove into the water, where he saw the submerged pickup and its driver still inside, with windows rolled up.
Elverfeld broke the driver's side window with the pipe and tried a couple if times to pull Stilwell out, but could not. On the third try, he was able to pull Stilwell out and to safety.
The two other vehicles involved in the chain-reaction crash were a 2006 Kia Spectra driven by Josalyn Lawrence, 23, from Lebanon, and a 2002 Volvo commercial truck driven by Pavel Priymak, 47, from Vancouver, Wash.
Stilwell, Olson, Harrison, Lawrence and her 2-year old son were transported by ambulance to Albany General Hospital with minor injuries. Stilwell reportedly received a concussion and did not recall being inside the submerged pickup.
PRIYMAK and a 14-year old male passenger in the Dodge Caravan were not taken to a hospital.
Olson was cited by OSP for careless driving.
The highway was closed about 45 minutes in both directions before one lane was open during the scene investigation. The scene was cleared about 6 p.m.
OSP troopers from the Albany Area Command office were assisted at the scene by the Linn County Sheriff's Office, ODOT, and Albany Fire Department and Fire Medic 13.