A Dodge Ram, literally

March 5, 2011


Nobody was hurt in an extremely lucky case of a runaway truck in downtown Hood River. The Dodge Ram in the center was parked facing downhill on Sixth Street when it broke free, turned right on State Street picked up speed, jumped a curb and smashed into three parked cars.

Never mind throwing on a bright orange traffic vest, chasing down a story and standing around the cold waiting for a good photo; sometimes it comes right to the front door.

That was the case Wednesday afternoon anyway, when the most exciting story of the day came barreling down State Street in the form of a runaway Dodge Ram pickup.

In a situation city police say occurs a couple times a year, this particular case of a vehicle rolling out of control with nobody behind the wheel was especially dangerous.

"I was about to pull out of the parking lot and turn onto State Street when I saw a truck bust through the stop sign going down Sixth Street," said Hood River News employee Jody Thompson.

"And when I say bust through, I mean literally. The truck plowed over the stop sign and the street sign; then it veered right across State Street aimed toward the library. It hit the curb and turned back across the road, then it hit the sidewalk, went airborne over the bushes, threaded between two cars in the only empty parking space in the row and smashed into three parked cars."

Thompson and other nearby witnesses rushed to the scene to find the truck unoccupied and one uninjured person in a vehicle struck by the truck.

"The driver she said she wasn't sure if she set the parking brake," said Hood River City Police Officer Don Cheli, who was first on scene. "A firefighter who responded said he set the truck's parking brake when he arrived." The owner of the truck, who was inside the county administration building at the time, wasn't cited.

"When she saw her truck and came running down the hill, all she wanted to know was if anyone was hurt," Thompson said.

Of the four vehicles impacted, a Chevy Blazer took the majority of the impact and was pretty well totaled; its owner was nearby in the dentist office but didn't witness the crash. Ironically, despite its run-in with street signs, a couple curbs, a parking meter, a 4-foot leap through thick bushes and a high-speed collision, the Dodge pickup was only slightly damaged and drove away just fine.

"It's really fortunate that nobody was hurt," Cheli said. "Had the truck gone straight down Sixth Street it would have been a lot worse. This is a reminder for everyone to set their emergency brakes, especially on a hill."

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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