Man in I-84 rock slide: ‘I can’t believe I survived’

Man in I-84 rock slide: ‘I can’t believe I survived’

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by Jeff Thompson, KGW.com Staff

kgw.com

Posted on February 13, 2014 at 1:48 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 13 at 3:47 PM

HOOD RIVER, Ore. -- A LaGrande father of four says he’s lucky to be alive after his car was destroyed by a rock slide on Interstate 84 Wednesday night.

Dan Koopman was headed home to LaGrande from a work meeting in Salem. Suddenly, at around 7:30 p.m., at least 2,000 cubic yards of rock and debris came tumbling down onto the stretch of I-84 he was driving on.

Slideshow: I-84 rock slide

He was traveling at about 58 miles an hour when several huge boulders smashed the front end of his car and cracked his windshield.

“I had the sheer terror,” Koopman said. “I could hear more movement outside. I thought, ‘I’m going to get crushed,’ and I bailed out of my car as fast as I could.”

He jumped over the Jersey barrier to safety and waited for help to arrive, knowing he was just inches from a far worse fate.

“I am just so unbelievably grateful,” he said. “I just look at the car, and the rocks. And some of them were far larger than my car.” He escaped with just a few sore ribs.

“I can’t believe I survived,” he said when he went back to look at his car hours later (pictured). “I believe there’s a reason I’m alive today.”

Major closure on I-84 eastbound

The rock slide forced the closure of both eastbound lanes of Interstate 84 near milepost 61, west of Hood River Wednesday night, with a man barely escaping the rubble as it fell.  On Thursday, ODOT announced that the closure would remain through the weekend, due to unstable conditions.

Drivers on I-84 are being rerouted to the Interstate 205 bridge to eastbound SR 14, where motorists can rejoin I-84 at the Hood River Bridge, which requires a toll. Another route was to take U.S. 26 east to OR 35, and then north to I-84 in Hood River.

Drivers were warned to expect heavy traffic, delays and backups on this route. Truckers were also alerted that oversized loads are not allowed on SR-14 between Washougal and Hood River.

KGW Reporter Ashley Korslien contributed to this report.

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