Off-duty deputy, passerby save 2 from burning Jeep

An off-duty deputy and a passerby pulled two men from this burning Jeep near Gaston, March 29, 2014 (Washington County Sheriff's Office)
An off-duty deputy and a passerby pulled two men from this burning Jeep near Gaston, March 29, 2014 (Washington County Sheriff's Office)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — An off-duty Washington County sheriff’s deputy and a passerby pulled two men to safety after the Jeep they were in crashed and burst into flames near Gaston Saturday night.

The crash happened around 8:10 p.m. along SW Springhill Road, north of Laurelwood Road, officials said.

The driver of a 1994 Jeep Cherokee, Mark Vanvleck, allegedly ran a stop sign at that intersection then left the road, hit two drainage culverts and then two trees. Officials said the Jeep hit with such force the engine and transmission separated, with the transmission landing 46 feet down the road.

Mark Vanvleck, March 30, 2014. (KOIN)
Mark Vanvleck, March 30, 2014. (KOIN)

A backseat passenger, Christian Bandmann, managed to get out on his own. But Vanvleck and another man, Jason Eaton, were trapped in the Jeep.

The off-duty deputy, Cpl. Cheryl Crecelius, was in the area moments after the crash. She quickly was able to pull Eaton, 25, to safety, but Vanvleck’s legs were pinned.

“All I could think about was getting the people out of that car,” said Crecelius. “This is probably the worst crash I’ve seen in my career.”

Crecelius said she was just about to give up because flames were starting to overtake the Jeep when an unidentified man stopped to help. He and Crecelius were able to pull Vanvleck from the Jeep just before it burst into flames.

“He stepped right in and helped me pull him out. We had to drag him quite a distance,” said Crecelius.

Washington County Sheriff's Office Cpl. Cheryl Crecelius was off-duty when she stopped and helped pull two men from a burning Jeep near Gaston on March 29, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
Washington County Sheriff’s Office Cpl. Cheryl Crecelius was off-duty when she stopped and helped pull two men from a burning Jeep near Gaston on March 29, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

All three men were taken to the hospital for treatment and are expected to recover.

Vanvleck faces charges of DUII, reckless driving and two counts of fourth-degree assault.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office continued to look for the passerby, who is in his 20s, who stopped to help.

 

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