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Bystanders rescue driver after semi crashes into Columbia River

A crash on I-84 east of Corbett sent a semi through the guardrail, down an embankment and partially into the Columbia River on Monday night.

CORBETT, Ore. — A crash on Interstate 84 sent a semi through the guardrail, down an embankment and partially into the Columbia River on Monday night.

The crash happened at about 5:18 p.m. when the driver of the semi trailer, traveling in the westbound lanes east of Corbett, left the right lane while checking her side mirror in anticipation of moving into the left lane.

The driver, 52-year-old Suzanne Brault of Quebec, Canada, drifted onto the shoulder of the freeway and slammed into a parked SUV that had run out of gas. The semi crashed through the guardrail and fell 50 feet down the embankment.

The trailer of the truck came to rest along the banks of the Columbia River, but the cab plunged into the river and was partially submerged.

Two bystanders climbed down from the freeway and waded into the frigid water to help pull the driver out of the cab. She was sent to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The two people in the SUV, 53-year-old Patrick Sheehan Jr. and 47-year-old Addison Blackmon, both from Portland, were also taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

Sheehan spoke with KGW on Tuesday, describing the impact that demolished the left rear portion of his Chevy Tahoe.

"All I saw was a flash and I’m pulling glass out of my hair, my glasses are knocked off, and all I saw was the tail end of the trailer go by," said Sheehan.

Corbett Fire Department Assistant Chief Rick Wunsch said it was fortunate everyone escaped with only minor injuries.

"Another 10 feet for the truck, and the cab may have been totally submerged, and we may not have been able to get to her in time," he said.

The semi will be removed from the water and towed away Wednesday morning. One lane of westbound I-84 will be closed beginning at 6 a.m. The Oregon Department of Transportation said travelers should expect the lane to be closed most of the day.

The interstate was restricted to one lane of travel for about three hours after the crash. On Wednesday, there will be intermittent lane closures and traffic restrictions while the semi is removed. ODOT said a crane would be needed to do the job and that it should be in place by 6 a.m.

Check tripcheck.com for the latest updates.

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