Tractor forced off Highway 26 during a rear-end crash with an SUV

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: OREGON STATE POLICE - CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: OREGON STATE POLICE The small Kubota tractor is seen lying on its side after the victim/driver, in critical condition, had been freed and transported to a hospital Friday afternoon.A Sandy man was critically injured in a tractor rollover Friday afternoon, March 1, on Highway 26 about 2 miles east of Sandy.

At the time of the rear-end crash, Matthew Grassl, 25, was driving a slow-moving Kubota tractor westbound toward Sandy in the right lane.

Two vehicles also were traveling west in the same lane of traffic, but the vehicle closest to the tractor apparently obscured the vision of the second driver, Christopher Huntley, 32, of Portland, who was driving a Buick Enclave SUV.

The vehicle closest to the tractor made a sudden swerve to the left lane of traffic as if to avoid crashing into the back of the tractor, according to a report from the Oregon State Police.

That’s apparently when Huntley was first aware of the slow-moving vehicle in his lane. He attempted to avoid a crash, but there wasn’t enough time or space, and the SUV crash forced the tractor off the roadway, where it rolled onto Grassl in the barrow ditch.

Grassl was freed through the efforts of Sandy Fire District rescue personnel, and transported by LifeFlight helicopter to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center.

By Tuesday morning, Grassl was still listed in critical condition.

The tractor reportedly was borrowed from a friend and was being transported to Grassl’s home in Sandy, according to a state police report.

The SUV driver, Huntley, was not injured.

The highway was closed while the LifeFlight helicopter was landing and then reopened with both directions of travel using the eastbound lanes for about three hours.

ODOT personnel provided traffic control, while other assistance was from the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, Sandy Police Department, Sandy Fire District and AMR Ambulance.

State police troopers from the Portland and Government Camp offices are continuing the investigation. Trooper Scott McLeod is the lead investigator, and he would like to hear from any witnesses of the crash — particularly the driver of the vehicle following the tractor shortly before the crash.

Anyone with information about the crash should call McLeod at 503-731-3020, ext. 406.

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