SEASIDE, Ore. – A fiery 11-car pileup shut down U.S. 26 near Seaside for several hours Tuesday, but rather than run away from the danger, several witnesses jumped into action to save the victims.
At approximately 9 a.m., a pickup truck driven by McKenzie Fidler, 26, of Gresham crashed into an oncoming pickup and set off a chain reaction of accidents that shut down the road and engulfed two vehicles in flames.
When he arrived on the scene at the Quartz Creek Bridge, Chris Weller, a Marine, ran toward a truck that was already caught fire. Another driver, an off-duty firefighter, was reportedly involved in the crash and had started to help the driver.
They were quickly joined by witness Jacob Rose. He happens to be a fire extinguisher inspector and had dozens of fire extinguishers on him at the time.
“Him and I used everything he had,” Weller told KGW. “It was about 100 pounds of chemical for the fire extinguishers, and we got it controlled a little bit.”
When the flames were mostly extinguished, the men pulled out the driver, who was badly burned and still on fire. While Rose and the other witness took care of that driver, Weller turned his attention toward another man, badly injured and trapped in his mangled truck.
“So I grabbed part of the door that was bent out, ripped the door open, helped him get out of the vehicle,” Weller said.
Fidler and the occupants of the other pickup in the initial crash, John and Jerrie Olson, were taken to Legacy Emmanuel Hospital in Portland. John Olson had critical injuries. Fidler had minor injuries, according to police.
The highway was shut down for about 4-1/2 hours while crews cleaned up the mess. Investigators believe one of the drivers involved in the crash may have been drinking.
“I'm just lucky that myself and a couple other people were there who were reacting and helping,” Weller said.
Background: Hwy 26 reopened after fiery 11-vehicle crash
KGW reporter Mike Benner contributed to this report.