A 19-year-old Brookings man was uninjured after he drove off South Bank Road Sunday morning and landed at the edge of the river across the river from Social Security Bar.
Erik Olsen was driving upriver along the Chetco River on a road wet from rainfall at about 9:30 a.m. when the incident occurred. The scene was cleared around noon.
“When I saw that car, I said, ‘Wow. How did anyone make it?,’” said Harbor Fire Assistant Bart Kast Monday. “It flipped one more time after he got out.”
Brookings resident Amanda Mountain was fishing near Social Security Bar when she said she saw a car traveling at a high rate of speed fly off the road.
The car struck one tree before lodging against a second at the edge of the Chetco River.
“I am still so shaken,” she posted on Facebook. “I’ve never seen anything like it before. I saw just how precious life is. It could be gone in the blink of an eye.”
At the top of the road are two memorial crosses indicating someone had died at that spot before.
The driver, a male, scrambled up the hill, Mountain said. Onlookers thought he was fleeing the scene, but realized he was running for help. Firefighters, a sheriff’s deputy, ambulance and Cal-Ore Life Flight arrived on scene shortly after bystanders reported the wreck.
Many people wrote on social media that they were glad he was uninjured and reminded people to slow down, as the community has already lost too many people on the winding roads along both sides of the river. It is not known if the man will be cited.
Kast credits the construction of new cars, like that of the 2009 Mazda6, Olsen was driving, to saving the young man’s life.
“I’m glad they build them the way they do now,” he said. “They’re like a capsule, with all the air bags. If it’d been an older car. … He was very lucky he made it.”