Yesterday, some motorists and Street Crimes Unit officers helped avert a tragedy on I-5.
At approximately 4:30 p.m., on October 17, two Eugene Police Street Crimes Unit officers were on their way back from an investigation in Creswell, Oregon, when they saw a vehicle careen off the highway into the southbound lanes of I-5 near the Hwy. 58 exit and then come to rest in the center median against the protective cable barrier. Passing motorists had stopped and were attempting to aid the driver, who had had a medical incident.
The SCU officers stopped on the northbound lanes of I-5 and jumped over the barrier fence to aid the driver of the vehicle. In the short amount of time officers were attempting to render aid, the front engine compartment of the vehicle became engulfed in flames. The driver was unconscious and unable to assist in his rescue. Because the driver’s side of the vehicle came to rest against the median cables, it made a driver’s side rescue improbable. To compound the problem, all the vehicle doors would not open.
The SCU officers used breaching tools to open the doors but were unable to extract the unconscious male. A contracting crew vehicle stopped and used a water tank from the rear of their vehicle to try and extinguish the fire. As things became more dire for the driver and rescuers, a plan was developed to use brute strength to move the car from the median cabling. The officers and bystanders went to the rear of the vehicle and in unison lifted the vehicle and created enough space to extract the unconscious male from the driver’s side and drag him away from the burning vehicle.
Firefighters soon arrived and dealt with the vehicle fire and attended to the man, who was subsequently transported to a local hospital. Lane County Sheriff’s Office and Oregon State Police also responded.
Without the assistance of the passing motorists, this event would likely have ended in tragedy. Thankfully none of the community members or officers were injured during this heroic act of selflessness. Due to the quick thinking, teamwork, and incredible amount of heroism by everyone involved, a tragic incident was averted. Case #22-15759
SCU is funded through the Community Safety Payroll Tax and works in concert with communities to help solve issues. The unit focuses on prolific offenders, who are identified through intelligence-based policing, public tips and other sources. They proactively respond across the city to quality of life issues as they arise, using all available resources and partners such as community groups, neighborhood associations and city services. SCU is dedicated to targeting immediate and acute community safety system issues while working toward mission-critical enhancements that need to be addressed through a longer-term and broader community safety initiative. The unit currently consists of a lieutenant, a sergeant and five officers, including one officer with a drug detection K9.