A man whose vehicle went airborne during the evening rush hour Friday, jumping from Egan Drive to Glacier Avenue, was charged with drunken driving after he was released from Bartlett Regional Hospital on Saturday afternoon.
Clayton Kaiser, 31, of Montana, sustained minor injuries in the crash and is being held at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center on $1,000 bail.
Police received several reports at about 5 p.m. Friday from motorists about a green Ford Ranger speeding down inbound Egan Drive in excess of 70 mph. Near Fred Meyer, the truck crossed into the median and it sped through a red light at Salmon Creek, police said.
Police Capt. Tom Porter said Officer Chris Burke, driving outbound on Egan near the Breakwater Inn, spotted the truck. Porter said Burke knew as he saw the truck strike an inbound guard rail that he needed to protect outbound motorists.
Porter said Burke swerved his vehicle sideways and stopped all outbound traffic. Just then, the truck hit a curb and went airborne, clearing a steep, 24-foot-high embankment between Egan Drive and Glacier Avenue. The truck landed in the middle of Glacier Avenue, about 50 feet away, and came to a sudden stop when it struck a retaining wall on the other side of the road.
"Though we'll probably never know for sure, that officer probably saved several lives that day," Porter said. "There's no doubt that at the time this happened that we had enough traffic we had a good chance of having a fatality if the officer hadn't been using his head."
Kaiser, the sole occupant of the vehicle, was kept in the hospital overnight for observation and released in good condition with an injury to his right leg. The truck was totalled.