In the annals of reckless and irresponsible things people do behind the wheel this one deserves special mention. According to The Oregonian, a three-car crash injuring four people was touched off Sunday when a teenager driving through a tunnel on US 26 near Manning, Oregon “held his breath when entering the tunnel and fainted.”
Just before 5pm on Sunday afternoon the teen was driving a 1990 Toyota Camry. When the driver passed out the vehicle “crossed the center line, (hitting) an eastbound 2013 Ford Explorer head-on. Both vehicles then smashed into the interior tunnel walls and a third vehicle… hit the Camry,” according to the newspaper. A spokesman for the Oregon State Police is quoted by the paper saying that none of the victims sustained life-threatening injuries, but even he was at a loss to explain why the teenage driver of the Camry would have been holding his breath to begin with or why that would have resulted in the driver losing consciousness, particularly granted that the tunnel is not particularly long. An OSP spokesman told the paper that the 19-year-old driver “did not appear to be intoxicated” and that there was no evidence that drugs were involved either.
According to The Oregonian police were particularly puzzled because the tunnel in question – the Daniel L. Edwards Tunnel – is not especially long. Normally a car would pass through it in about 10 seconds, which hardly seems like enough time for a person holding his or her breath to lose consciousness. The driver of the Camry was cited “for reckless driving, recklessly endangering three other people and assault and is due to appear in Washington County Circuit Court.”
Though I often use this blog to highlight instances of Portland and Oregon drunk driving and distracted driving, this incident is a reminder that reckless and negligent conduct behind the wheel does not require the use of alcohol or the distraction of one’s smartphone. While focusing on these things, as I often do as a Portland auto accident victims’ attorney, one should never lose sight of the basic fact that all of us need to behave responsibly whenever we are driving a car. Every driver’s actions have an impact on everyone else on the road, as well as pedestrians and cyclists. This Oregon car accident case will bear watching over the coming weeks and months.
The Oregonian: Teen holds breath in tunnel on U.S. 26; 4 injured; drugs, alcohol not involved, police say