BEAVERTON, Ore. – Washington County sheriff’s deputies rescued a wrong-way driver on U.S. 26 after he rammed his car into a signpost and the vehicle burst into flames.
The driver, who was cited for DUII, crashed about 2:45 Wednesday morning near Murray Boulevard, Beaverton police said.
Witness Junior Reyes was on his way to work, heading eastbound into Portland near Murray Boulevard, when he saw the car coming the wrong-way down a median straight at him. The car then slammed into a structure that supports a sign that spans the freeway, he told KGW.
Reyes stopped and got out to help the driver. But a deputy arrived quickly, joined by several more. Reyes said he stepped back and let them get to work, praising deputies for their quick thinking.
“I was surprised! They just went in there, not thinking about the fact that fire could have gotten to the fuel, and technically exploded the whole car," Reyes said. "They did that, in a split second. They acted really fast. They got there, they didn’t wait for the firefighter to get there, they just took him out.”
Moments before the crash, Deputy Kevin Weisenfluh was headed eastbound, like Reyes. He saw the wrong-way car and turned on his emergency lights to warn the driver. But he had to swerve to avoid a head-on crash, the sheriff's office said.
He sent out a radio warning about the driver, who crashed a short time later. Deputy Mark Shah arrived at the crash scene and ran to the car as the engine compartment caught fire. He exhausted a fire extinguisher, cut the seat belt and tried to free the driver.
Deputies Jason Waterbury and Gary Upton arrived. Their extinguishers could not put out the flames
Deputy Waterbury and Deputy Shah then worked together to pull the driver out of the car and away from the fire.
Deputies say the driver regained consciousness after they pulled him from the car.
Deputy Zach Majors came to help, too. " I already knew that I had lots of other deputies, my guys on scene," Deputy Majors said. "My first reaction was 'what do I need to do now. To help them'."
The driver did not hit any other cars while he was on the highway. He was taken to the hospital.
"I tell people that the same person we might arrest one day, we'ere going to take a report from as the victim the next day," said Deputy Majors. "We're going to treat everyone the same. I have a personal motto everybody matters or nobody matters."
Beaverton police cited 22-year-old Mohammed Warfa for DUII, reckless driving and reckless endangering another. They said his blood alcohol content was .23.