Echoes from the Past

Reprinted from the May 13, 2010 edition of River Reflections


February 8, 2024 | View PDF

Day before birthday, man survives 300-Foot plunge off Highway 20

SANTIAM PASS: A Salem man survived a morning crash last Thursday in the Santiam Pass area in which he lost control of his sport utility vehicle, crashed through a guardrail, and traveled approximately 300 feet down an embankment before coming to a stop. He was extricated from his vehicle and brought back up to the highway by fire and medical personnel before being transported for non-life-threatening injuries.

According to Oregon State Police (OSP) Sergeant Derek Bischoff, the accident happened on May 6th at approximately 9: 44 a.m. Involved was a 2002 GMC Yukon sport utility vehicle driven by Peter A. Chamberlain, 50, of Salem, that was eastbound on Highway 20 near milepost 79.

Police said Chamberlain lost control and struck a guardrail, causing the GMC to crash through the railing traveling down the embankment approximately 300 feet before coming to a stop. Bischoff arrived at the scene three minutes later and made his way down the hillside to Chamberlain while fire and medical personnel were responding.

The patient had non-life-threatening injuries and was later extricated from his vehicle by Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Search & Rescue and fire department personnel. Police noted the accident occurred the day before Chamberlain’s birthday on May 7th.

Chamberlain was transported by ambulance to St. Charles Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries. Safety restraint use is pending confirmation. The Sisters Fire Department, Bend Fire Department, Black Butte Fire Department, Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, and ODOT assisted OSP at the scene.

Crash wrecks area’s communications

CEDAR FLAT: A Springfield teenager wasn’t injured in a Monday morning accident but people throughout the McKenzie Valley were affected after she lost control of her sport utility vehicle and struck a power pole along Highway 126 east of Springfield. Electricity in the immediate area was knocked out for two and a half hours. Telephone, cell phone, and Internet communications, however, were out of order for close to 11 hours.

According to Oregon State Police Senior Trooper Rick Hamilton, the crash occurred on May 10th at approximately 7 a.m. A 2000 Ford Excursion driven by Amanda Kay Silvester, 17, of Springfield, was eastbound near milepost 11 when it came upon a stopped vehicle. Silvester attempted to avoid the stopped vehicle and crashed into an EWEB power pole on the right shoulder, snapping the pole - causing it to fall onto the vehicle and dropping power lines onto the highway.

The accident severed the fiber optic line that carries phone and Internet traffic in and out of the McKenzie Valley. Local connections were fine but nothing could get in or out through the fiber optic line until it was repaired in the late afternoon. Cell towers east of the accident site were also impacted because the down fiber optic line fed them.

“I don’t think most people understand that cell calls are reliant on the same hardwired infrastructure, which in this case is the fiber optic line that runs out 126 from Springfield,” according to Qwest spokesman Bob Gravely. “The call is just wireless between your handset and the closest tower. It then enters the same phone network and gets switched to the tower closest to where you’re calling - and then is wireless between that tower and the other person.”

Silvester was not injured in the accident. Safety restraint use information was not available. Highway 126 was closed for about two hours with traffic detoured onto Camp Creek Road.


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