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Poor passing judgment shuts down McLoughlin

by: ERIC NORBERG - In a scene lit only by emergency vehicles lights, looking east across the McLoughlin Boulevard  just north of S.E. Tacoma Street: The Peterbilt tractor involved in the crash is at left behind the Jersey barrier, with the burned Chevy truck visible in the background. Emergency vehicles blocked McLoughlin northbound for hours on October 17th until the accident investigation was complete.A three-vehicle smashup at 5:16 am that led to a truck fire shut down S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard for over four hours on Thursday morning, October 17.

While the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Major Crash team took measurements and investigated the tangle of wrecked vehicles, witnesses talked to police.

Witnesses said they saw two pickup trucks racing northbound on McLoughlin, driving as fast as 60 mph (the speed limit there is 45 miles per hour), before they tangled just north of the Tacoma Street overpass.

The closed highway sent detour traffic up west over the overpass, and then primarily into Westmoreland, clogging S.E. Milwaukie and 17th Avenues all through the morning rush hour.

Investigators sorted out that a 2013 Toyota Tundra, driven by 39-year-old Malcolm Cushing, had merged left from the “right turn only” lane at the Tacoma Street overpass into the middle lane.

A 2006 Chevy Silverado, driven by 39-year-old David McGrew, responded by pulling around the Tundra, into the “right turn only” lane – and attempted to pass the Toyota on the right as the lane ran out. In doing so, the Chevy clipped the right front of the Toyota.

The collision caused the Chevy to veer left into the Jersey barrier then back to the right, off the roadway, shearing a light pole and crashing into a tree, then catching fire. The Toyota then collided with a 2006 Peterbilt tractor hauling an empty flatbed trailer, driven by 51-year-old Rafael Tayag – and both those vehicles ground to a stop.

“Neither of those two drivers was injured, but McGrew is in critical condition at a Portland hospital. However he is expected to survive,” said PPB spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson. “None of the three drivers was impaired by drugs or alcohol,” Simpson added. But, investigators believe that the speed of the Chevy and Toyota pickups, combined with the passing maneuvers, were contributors to the crash.” No citations have been issued – but, once the investigation is complete, the case will be given to the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office for review. Anyone with information about this crash is asked to contact Officer Erik Koppang at 503/823-2216 or via e-mail at: HYPERLINK "mailto:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..