My daughter is learning to drive, and she’s doing fine with it, but it makes me remember some of MY escapades at that age.  Yikes!  It also reminds me of some accidents I covered, unfortunately. 

On one late evening, I was dispatched to W. Burnside Rd. in Portland, near the Washington Park Zoo, to recover an older Honda that was on its top about 50 yards off the road.  This was a wooded area, and the road went up a steep incline, but it was highly-traveled and narrow, so there were a lot of accidents on this road.  When I got to the scene, I tried to find where the vehicle went off the road, because it's often easiest to bring a car up the way it went down, but I couldn't, so I found the simplest route back to road, rolled the vehicle over, and pulled it up.

The next day, the vehicle's driver, 18 years old, and his mother arrived at the storage lot to view the vehicle and get some personal items.  He was pretty banged up, but okay, and I learned that there had been 5 teenagers in this little late 70s Civic, and that they were all okay, which was pretty amazing considering that there wasn’t a single piece of glass left in this car.  They couldn’t find his wallet.  I told them I would revisit the accident scene later that day and take a look for it, and give them a call if I found it.

That afternoon, I drove up to the scene and started looking for the wallet.  I couldn't find it, and I couldn't help noticing that there wasn't very much glass in the foliage and on the ground where the vehicle had lain on its top.  Also, I still couldn't see where the car had come off the road, which was strange.  As I looked around, I noticed some glass on a marked trail on the hillside above me, opposite the road, about 25 yards up the hill.  I hiked up to the spot, and sure enough, there was a pile of glass on the trail.  It was a wide trail, part of the Forest Park trail system, and I thought maybe they had been messing around, trying to drive this little car on the trail, and rolled off and down hill, but that didn't explain how the glass had gotten on the trail . Then I looked farther up the hill, and I saw the trail of crushed ferns and damaged brush.  I followed it uphill, passing a homeless person's tent about 5 feet from where the vehicle went, up about 500 yards, before I came to one of the Forest Park Roads.  There I found a long set of skid marks leading to the road corner.  I turned and looked down the hill to see how far this little car had flown into the air and rolled over-and-over down this steep, wooded incline, until it came to rest at the bottom of the gulch alongside the much busier Burnside Rd.

5 teenagers, and they all walked away.  I never found the wallet.

Have a safe and profitable week.

Nick Kemper

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