Portland police are looking for the driver of a red Pontiac involved in a road rage incident that caused a semi with two trailers to roll on the Glenn Jackson Bridge.
The 2:30 a.m. incident, which closed the I-205 span’s southbound lanes for several hours, was one of three dramatic overnight highway crashes that had Portland area transportation officials wondering if the nearly-full moon was to blame.
“Hospital emergency rooms will tell you that they get busy during full moons,” said Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman Brad Wurfel. “Things were definitely crazy last night.”
On Interstate 84 near Corbett, one person died after a sport utility vehicle collided with a tractor-trailer rig parked on the side of the freeway. Authorities said the semi’s driver had stopped to sleep. About 9:45 p.m., the westbound SUV rear-ended the trailer, which caught fire. Westbound I-84 was closed for a brief period.
Earlier in the night, a driver suspected of being under the influence of alcohol crashed into a fire truck parked near a grass fire along Oregon 224 near Estacada, ODOT said.
Then there was the crash the Glenn Jackson Bridge. There, witnesses saw a silver 1998 Honda Civic two-door and the red Pontiac driving recklessly alongside each other on the Washington side of I-205.
Crossing the bridge toward Oregon, the silver Honda struck a tractor-trailer rig with two trailers in the left rear axle of the tractor, causing the semi to drive over the top of the car, nearly flattening it.
The big rig then tipped onto its right wheels and lost control, eventually crashing into the center divider and toppling onto its side, Portland police said.
The rear trailer then detached and rolled, stopping in the middle of the bridge. The crash scene stretched nearly 700 feet and occurred within the work zone where ODOT crews are replacing the bridge’s aging joints, police said.
The Honda’s driver and passenger climbed out of the smashed car and ran to the northbound lanes, where they attempted to flag down passing cars. After nobody stopped, they returned to the vehicle.
Emergency medical responders eventually arrived and both people were taken by ambulance to Southwest Washington Medical Center with minor injuries. The driver of the Conway Company tractor trailer was identified as Brenton Reimer. He was not injured in the accident, police said.
At the hospital, the driver of the Honda, 21-year-old Ilya Anikin, was cited for DUII and reckless driving in Oregon. The Washington State Patrol then arrested him for suspicion of DUI.
Wurfel said ODOT crews were able to clear the wreckage, including a large amount of glue that spilled from the big rig’s trailers, in time for the morning commute.
“It was really close,” he said. “But we were able to pull it off.”