PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A man escaped injury Wednesday night after crashing into large boulders from a landslide that closed eastbound I-84 about one mile west of Hood River. One westbound lane is also closed.
Large boulders spilled onto the highway near milepost 61 and pushed the concrete center barrier into the westbound side. Fifty-four-year-old Dan Koopman hit that barrier and was not hurt.
“I caught out of my right side a big debris cloud coming right up the embankment,” Koopman told KOIN Thursday. “And I knew instantly what it was. I knew I was going to be in deep trouble, I told people it’s a one-Mississippi affair.”
Koopman lives in the Union County town of Summerville and was returning home after a work meeting in Salem. It’s a routine drive he makes every couple of months.
“It was so close, and I was in the debris cloud instantly… and grabbing, and trying to maintain control in getting my car (sic) as quickly as I could, but it was instant impact.”
“When it came to full stop, I was absolutely shocked that I was in one piece and then I just had mortal fear, and it was to get out of that car.”
The Oregon Department of Transportation reported that about 2,000 cubic yards of debris fell from the hillside. Eastbound I-84 would remain closed Thursday at Exit 17 while crews cleared the debris and confirmed that the hillside was stable enough for cars to pass through. There was no estimate on when that would be.
“I’m kind of emotion this morning… I’m grateful to be alive,” Koopman said.
Meanwhile, a second landslide Thursday morning temporarily closed State Route 14 just east of Lyle, Wash. State Route 14 runs parallel to I-84 on the north side of the Columbia River in Washington state. Washington State Patrol reported that this caused complications for drivers who were using SR 14 as a detour from I-84. The landslide was cleared and the highway reopened by 9:25 a.m. There were no reported injuries.
Here are the detour options in place:
— U.S. Route 26 (Mount Hood Highway) east to Oregon Route 35, then north to I-84 in Hood River. These highways are icy in spots so use caution, ODOT warns.
— I-205 north into Washington state, then SR-14 east to Hood River and then back across the Hood River Bridge to continue on I-84 east. Note: Oversized loads are not allowed on SR-14 between Washougal and Hood River.