Crash injures three teenagers critically

Car flipped and was 'embedded and twisted around the guardrail'

Posted: Monday, May 05, 2003

Two Juneau teens and one from Ketchikan were flown in critical condition to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle early Sunday after the car they were riding in hit a guardrail and flipped about 1:22 a.m. near the intersection of Back Loop Road and View Drive.

A fourth victim, the 17-year-old driver, was out of the vehicle and walking around when police and fire officials arrived at the scene. The Juneau teen was treated and released at Bartlett Regional Hospital, nursing supervisor Susan Thompson said.

The conditions of the three passengers, a Juneau girl, 15, and two males, 16 and 18, were unknown at press time. All three were able to talk to the firefighters who extricated them from the wreckage, said Capt. Pete Hettinger of Capital City Fire and Rescue.

Officials at Harborview, Bartlett, the Juneau Police Department and CCFR would not release any of the victims' names. Police are investigating the accident.

"We think speed is involved, but it's too early to tell," said police Sgt. Kevin Siska.

The Juneau-Douglas High School prom was held Saturday night, but it was not known whether the teenagers in the crash had attended. Siska said the victims were not wearing formal attire.

According to a press release from Juneau police, the 1990 Toyota Camry was heading northwest on Back Loop Road toward Auke Bay. As the driver crossed the Mendenhall River bridge near View Drive, she "failed to negotiate a left-hand curve in the road." The car slid sideways and hit a guardrail. The car broke off two guardrail posts, then flipped and landed on top of the rail.

Seven officers from the Juneau Police Department responded, Siska said. CCFR sent 23 firefighters and seven vehicles, Hettinger said. When police and fire arrived, the driver had freed herself from the car and was walking, Hettinger said. She was placed on a back board and driven to Bartlett's emergency room in an ambulance, he said.

CCFR personnel were able to slide one of the boys out of the car and on to a backboard, Hettinger said. The boy was "complaining of pelvic pain and back pain," and firefighters took spinal precautions, he said.

The other two passengers, a boy and a girl, were responsive but were trapped.

"The vehicle was upside down," Hettinger said. "The car was embedded and twisted around the guardrail. It was such a mess."

The girl, 15, from Juneau, was in the front of the vehicle and pinned beneath the car.

"It was in such a position that if the car rocked either way, it would have done great harm," Hettinger said. "We had to lift both sides of the car up to get this one person out."

Firefighters used hydraulic equipment, air bags and blocks of wood to raise, support and stabilize the car. They were able to remove the girl and the boy. The boy was trapped with his legs twisted among the guardrail and vehicle door, Hettinger said.

The three passengers were all at Bartlett by 2:20 a.m., Hettinger said.

Two of the passengers were medically evacuated in a plane that left Juneau Airport at approximately 6:45 a.m., Thompson said. The third passenger's plane left at 9:45 a.m., she said.

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