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Wrecks pile up at McLoughlin intersection

Hero helps save a life
by: David F. Ashton, Rescue officials say, because of his quick thinking and actions, Arturo Guzman was a hero. He put out the fire in the wrecked, upside-down GMC, before helping to pull the trapped female passenger to safety.

Wrecks at the intersection of S.E. McLoughlin and Holgate Boulevards are frequent--averaging two a month. Still, workers at the 76 MiniMart said they never get used to seeing crumpled vehicles landing on their lot.

Two wrecks in two days

Vehicles were demolished and people were injured on both October 8th and 9th because of T-bone collisions.

The first wreck shut the intersection down late into the evening, after a silver Honda plowed into the side of a GMC.

'I heard the initial impact,' said Brennan Cooper, an employee at the 76 MiniMart. 'It made quite a sound. I took a look, saw the GMC upside down, and called 9-1-1.'

Unintentional hero

'I was working inside,' said Arturo Guzman, a young man who authorities call a hero. 'We heard a loud crash, and thought it was just another accident. They happen here often. We ran outside and I saw the GMC burning. I grabbed a fire extinguisher and put out the fire.'

The driver crawled out on his own, 'but the passenger still had her seatbelt on, hanging upside down. We helped her get loose, and pulled her out.'

Portland Fire Bureau Battalion Chief Duane Bray confirmed the story, telling us, 'The attendant from the Union 76 station played a vital role, making sure a bad accident didn't get worse than it already was.'

Second accident serious, not deadly

The very next day, October 9, another car was smashed beyond repair at the exact intersection, in exactly the same way--a T-bone collision. Once again, it appeared, somebody had run the red light without even slowing down.

Accident-prone corner

Even though McLoughlin Blvd is wide and the traffic signals can be clearly seen, the intersection with SE Holgate Blvd. has its share of accidents, according to PDOT's Mark Lear.

Although it ranks high, we learned from studying the statistics that it isn't considered one of the most dangerous intersections in the city.

Lear provided THE BEE with a printout of all accidents at this corner from 2001 through 2005. 'We're still compiling 2006 statistics,' Lear said.

A total of 95 accidents took place during the span of the report. Surprisingly, none of the wrecks - although some looked very serious - resulted in death. 37 of the incidents resulted in non-fatal injuries.

Daylight and weather do not appear to be factors. But frequently the cause is ascribed to 'driver distraction' or 'driver inattention'.

A Portland Police Traffic Division officer told us, 'It pays to look both ways when you drive through heavily-used intersections like this one - even if you have the green light.'