TLC Towing driver Travis Nugent spent Thursday morning hauling a woman’s Ford F-250 pickup from an embankment, where it was wedged in some trees inches above the icy Kalama River.
First responders were called around 6:30 a.m. to Kalama River Road near the intersection with Fallert Road, where the pickup had slid on ice, went over the embankment and fell about 35 feet, according to Clark County Fire District 6, which assisted at the scene.
After a tricky, hourslong rescue, Nugent said the Clark County Technical Rescue Team sent one of his drivers down on the rope system crews had set up in order to hook up the truck.
Although he arrived after the woman had already left, Nugent said he heard she was fine, other than being cold and wet.
The rescue capped off a busy week for emergency crews after Clark County was under a winter weather advisory since Saturday.
From Sunday to Wednesday morning, Washington State Patrol troopers responded to 203 crashes — 47 of those in Clark County. Of the local crashes, three of them involved people who needed medical attention, according to spokesman Trooper Will Finn.
Local police agencies were called out to 127 crashes in the county during that time frame, according to emergency dispatch logs, accounting for just over 3 percent of calls. During that same period last year, the local dispatch center received 70 traffic accident calls and 75 traffic accident calls in 2019.
Later Thursday afternoon, Nugent was again on his way to a call on Lewis River Road north of Yacolt. He said he and another tow truck driver were scrambling for a road condition report after sliding around on that same road while responding to another call Wednesday night.
The towing company had all hands on deck this week, he said, in preparation for the snowy and icy weather; drivers sliding off the roads made up more than 95 percent of calls.
Since Monday, the Ridgefield-based company had responded to between 100 and 120 calls, and Nugent said its usual call load is about three-quarters of that. He said most calls have been from people stuck on rural roads in the northern parts of the county.
Nugent hoped to sneak in an hour or two of sleep Thursday once he finished the tow near Yacolt; he had already worked a 14-hour shift before that call. The weather adds about an hour to calls, he said, especially if drivers need to stop to put chains on the rig’s tires and again to remove them.