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Beaverton driver in critical condition after head-on collision with ambulance

UPDATE • Investigators trying to determine why van was going so fast
by: Submitted photo Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue crews carefully carry the driver of a wrecked minivan to a waiting Life Flight helicopter Thursday afternoon.

A Beaverton woman involved in a high-speed crash between a minivan and Newberg Fire Department ambulance Thursday afternoon remains in critical condition.

The accident happened just after 2:30 p.m. along Southwest Scholls Ferry Road just west of Barrows Road in Beaverton.

Deputies from the Washington County Sheriff's Office along with officers from the Beaverton Police Department and firefighters from Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue responded to 9-1-1 calls reporting the high-speed crash.

When they arrived, firefighters found 51-year-old Beth Caulfield trapped in a minivan.

"The van had left the roadway and was in a grassy area on the south side of the road," said Sgt. David Thompson, sheriff's office spokesman. "It had sustained massive damage, to the point where the engine was ejected from the vehicle. It took firefighters at least 30 minutes to extricate Mrs. Caulfield from the minivan."

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The crash was so severe it knocked the engine out of the car and tossed the ambulance across the road. Photo: Washington County Sheriff's Office.

Firefighters used hydraulic tools to free Caulfield. She was taken by Life Flight to Oregon Health and Science University Hospital, where she remains in critical condition.

Meanwhile, the two Newberg firefighter/paramedics and the patient in their vehicle were treated at the scene and taken to area hospitals with non-life threatening injuries.

The firefighter/paramedics with the Newberg Fire Department, 39-year-old Shannon Hankel and 26-year-old Jared Wick, were released from the hospital Thursday evening.

The woman in the back of the ambulance was 90-year-old Mary Schollenberg, who was being transported for a broken hip. She did not suffer any major injuries from the crash and was treated at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center.

Members of the Washington County Crash Analysis Reconstruction Team were called to the scene. They closed the road for several hours during the rush-hour commute while they investigated the crash.

"The preliminary investigation showed that the ambulance was traveling east on Southwest Scholls Ferry Road approaching Southwest Barrows Road," Thompson said. "The minivan was traveling west at a high rate of speed.

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The van smashed into a Newberg Fire Department ambulance, crushing the passenger side as the ambulance was transporting a patient with a broken hip. Photo: Washington County Sheriff's Office.

"Witnesses reported that she blew through the red light at Southwest Barrows Road. Mrs. Caulfield then drifted into the eastbound lane and was on a collision course for a head-on crash with the ambulance."

Hankel reportedly saw the approaching vehicle and made a quick maneuver by steering left into the center median, avoiding the head-on collision, he added.

Caulfield's van struck the ambulance on the passenger side just behind the passenger door. The impact caused massive damage to the rear compartment of the ambulance and tore a gaping hole in the side of it.

The force of the crash pushed the ambulance across four lanes of traffic and off the side of the road. The minivan was badly damaged in the collision and came to rest on the south side of the road.

"Investigators do not know why Mrs. Caulfield was driving at such a high rate of speed," Thompson said. "They are continuing to investigate her activities prior to the crash and would like to hear from anyone who saw her this afternoon."

Investigators say alcohol was not a factor in this crash.

More photos are available on The Times' Facebook page.