Trapped man freed after harrowing rescue along Hwy 99

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by David Krough and Mike Benner / KGW.com

NWCN.com

Posted on February 5, 2010 at 10:28 AM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 4 at 6:32 PM

MILWAUKIE, Ore. -- Clackamas County Fire crews freed a driver trapped in his car after it crashed into a tree down an embankment off Highway 99E Thursday.

Oregon State Police said 50-year-old John Michael Talpa of Gladstone had just passed another car near Lakewood Drive when he clipped the front of that car and lost control, veering down an embankment.

When first responders arrived on scene they found something they do not see everyday. "I'm seeing the underside of the car," said firefighter Tyson Lowther. "We shouldn't see this part."

Talpa's Volkswagon Jetta landed vertically on its front bumper and he was still inside. "We're down there before the vehicle is stabilized, so it could've shifted," added Lowther. "He could've freaked out and tried to get out of the door."

The first thing firefighters did was secure the car to the tree it was resting against. "We can't let that vehicle go any further down the embankment," said Lowther.

After the car was secure, firefighters began what they call a low angle rescue. They carefully pulled Talpa out of the car and lifted him up the brush filled hillside. "It's difficult, but we practice it a lot," added Lowther.

Talpa was out of the car and on his way to the hospital within forty minutes of the accident. "It could've been really bad for this guy," said Steve McAdoo of Clackamas County Fire. McAdoo said had Talpa not been wearing a seat belt, one of two things would have happened. "He would've either gone into the windshield the way he was going or he would've been ejected on the side," added McAdoo.

But neither fate came to be. Instead, firefighters performed a rescue they will remember for a long time. "Dealing with the incline, the mud, and the vehicle on its nose, I'd have to say it's very rare," said Lowther.

Talpa was evaluated and released from the hospital.

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