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Driver dead in Ross Island Bridge crash

by: Courtesy of Pete Hermann-Franzen, KPTV Fox 12 Over an hour and a half after the fatal crash, the Ross Island Bridge was still closed for a police investigation — which at this moment was centering on the vehicle which caused the accident. The bridge remained completely closed until the 3 pm hour.

Just before 12:30 pm on Friday, March 18th, a 58-year-old man, later identified as 59-year-old Kurt Maul of Southwest Portland, was driving eastward on the Ross Island Bridge when he experienced what police believe was a medical condition that caused him to lose control of his car.

The vehicle swerved right, struck the bridge railing, which propelled it across the oncoming lanes at the peak of the bridge to bounce off the other railing, and then finally to plow at high speed into the back of another compact car, driven by a man later identified as 54-year-old Michael Grossnickle of Vancouver, Washington.

The vehicles spun and wound up blocking three of the four lanes of the bridge, bringing traffic to a standstill in both directions. Portland Fire Bureau Station #4 responded from the west end of the bridge, and arriving paramedics found the driver who had caused the wreck, Mr. Maul, in cardiac arrest.

Applying life-support measures, they rushed Maul to Emanuel Hospital - since the jammed traffic on the bridge prevented them from going west to OHSU. However, he was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Meantime, a second ambulance crew responded and attended to the injured driver of the struck car, Michael Grossnickle; as police began to clear the bridge of stopped vehicles, they managed to get through the traffic and transport him to OHSU Hospital on Marquam Hill. He was listed as being in critical condition, but is expected to survive.

Police investigators responded to the bridge and closed it entirely for an investigation of the fatal crash. The bridge was reopened in the 3 pm hour, easing the gridlock on all the access streets approach either end of the Ross Island Bridge in time for the afternoon commute.