A mother with a toddler and an infant in the vehicle crashed off Highway 20 down an embankment just west of Highway 34 on Friday afternoon, Philomath Fire & Rescue reported.
Emergency responders were dispatched to the crash at 2:05 p.m. Jan. 27 to find a vehicle on its side. The mother and infant were only able to exit the vehicle after crews removed a window.
Passersby from NWFF Environmental called 911 and rendered aid until emergency crews arrived, Deputy Fire Chief Rich Saalsaa said.
“Both children were in car seats at the time of the accident,” Saalsaa said. “The toddler was handed out of a window to one of the gentlemen providing aid. On arrival from the fire department, a 35-foot extension ladder was used to reach down the embankment to the vehicle, which was partially submerged in a run-off stream.”
The mother and two children were transported to Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center for further assessment, Saalsaa said.
Philomath Fire & Rescue’s response included a truck with two personnel, a rescue vehicle with one personnel and two officers. The Philomath Police Department helped block the highway and Benton County Sheriff’s Office deputies assisted with the rescue operation and traffic management.
Saalsaa said the highway was closed in both directions for approximately 20 minutes.
“Given this is Friday, there was a large amount of traffic going to the coast and cars were backed up through Philomath,” Saalsaa said.
The crash should serve as a reminder to have working car seats for all children under the age of 12, Saalsaa said.
“Children under the age of 2 must face backwards in the vehicle and older kids can use a booster seat with the seat belt,” Saalsaa said. “Kids should be kept in a full car seat as long as possible — according to the manufacturer specifications for height and weight.”
Saalsaa said Philomath Fire & Rescue has a certified car seat technician to assist in installation of car seats or to check car seats for safety.
“As a reminder, no loose object should be in the main compartment of the car while a child is in the seat,” he added. “During an accident, a loose cell phone can become a projectile and cause serious injury.”