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Driver trying to enter car wash hit one vehicle driving in reverse, then two others

PHOTO COURTESY OF ERIC RICE
 - Two of the four vehicles damaged in the crash that originated in a local car wash are towed away.

King's Oil and Lube owner Eric Rice had never seen anything like it.

Sure, larger vehicles trying to enter the adjacent self-service car wash had sometimes struggled to line the tires up just right, likely frustrating them — but never had it led to something as dramatic as a recent incident that ruined the car wash and damaged four vehicles.

Surveillance video provided Rice a recap of what transpired during the mid-morning of Saturday, June 6.

"A crew cab Dodge diesel pickup was pulling in and he was having trouble," he said, recalling the footage. "We could see he was getting his tire up on the guide rail and bouncing around a little bit."

While this was happening, a Ford pickup that had just exited the car wash had parked in front of the exit at an angle. The driver had gotten out to fold the rearview mirrors back out and examine the freshly washed rig. Behind the Dodge, a Jeep had pulled up and was waiting its turn to enter car wash.

Then the seemingly innocuous situation turned chaotic.

"Something happened," Rice recalls. "I don't know if (the man with the Dodge) lost his cool or had a medical issue, but he ended up putting it in reverse and full throttle – and we know it was full throttle because the truck moved very fast and the tires were peeling out."

The Dodge slammed into the Jeep — then continued to push the vehicle backward, even though its brakes were locked. The pickup ended up pushing the skidding Jeep back about 6 to 8 feet, Rice said.

"Then all of the sudden, the Dodge (driver) puts it in drive and is peeling out like he is power braking it," he said. "He must have had one foot on the brake and one foot on the throttle. Now, his tires are peeling out going forward, smoke is coming off the tires — and he lets off the brakes and the truck just takes off forward into the building."

The Dodge crashed into the passenger side of the car wash machinery, pushing it from a perpendicular position to an angle. The pickup continued forward, colliding with the back end of the Ford parked in front of the car wash exit. The driver of the Ford had just walked from the front end of his rig to the driver side, otherwise Rice suspects he would have been run over by his own vehicle.

That impact still failed to stop the Dodge, which continued forward, off the curb and onto Third Street where it t-boned a passing Ford flatbed truck, pushing into some concrete barriers on the other side of the road.

"By the time I got there, the Ford (in front of the car wash exit) and the Jeep were gone," Rice said, "and the Dodge and the Ford were getting towed."

Prineville Police Department personnel responded to the scene. Sgt. James Peterson said that the driver of the Dodge — whose name was not disclosed — was not believed to be impaired in any way or intoxicated at the time of the incident. He was cited for careless driving.

The car wash was totaled, Rice said, and repairs, funded by insurance, are expected to take about two months to complete. But he is relieved that things didn't turn out any worse.

"I am so thankful that nobody was seriously hurt," he said.


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