An ODOT employee is credited with rescuing an injured man from a submerged vehicle following a Tuesday afternoon five-vehicle crash along Highway 20 east of Albany. Five people were transported to a hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.
According to Trooper Ray Stallsworth, on June 19, 2012 at approximately 3:24 p.m. traffic was stopped eastbound on Highway 20 near milepost 7 for ODOT roadwork. JOHN L. OLSON, age 21, from Sisters, driving a 1996 Dodge pickup towing a flatbed trailer loaded with hay failed to notice stopped traffic, braked hard to try to avoid a collision but didn’t stop in time. The Dodge pickup crashed into the rear of a 1970 Chevrolet pickup driven by DEAN H. STILWELL, age 56, from Sweet Home, leading to a chain-reaction crash involving 3 other vehicles.
After the initial impact, the Chevrolet pickup collided into the back of a 2003 Dodge Caravan driven by SHIRLEY HARRISON, age 81, from Albany. The 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, age 47, from Lebanon, saw smoke from the crash and went to the scene. ELVERFELD took a metal rod from a backhoe and dove into the water where he saw the submerged pickup and its operator still inside with windows rolled up. ELVERFELD broke the driver’s side window with the pipe and tried a couple times to pull STILWELL out. On the third try, he successfully pulled STILWELL out to safety.
The two other vehicles involved in the chain-reaction crash were a 2006 Kia Spectra driven by JOSALYN LAWRENCE, age 23, from Lebanon, and a 2002 Volvo commercial truck driven by PAVEL PRIYMAK, age 47, from Vancouver, Washington.
STILWELL, OLSON, HARRISON, LAWRENCE and her 2-year old son, were all transported by ambulance to Albany General Hospital with minor injuries. STILLWELL 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 transported 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 6:00 p.m.
OSP troopers from the Albany Area Command office were assisted at the scene by Linn County Sheriff’s Office, ODOT, and Albany Fire Department and Fire Medic 13.