ASTORIA, Ore. (KOIN) — A monument honoring the Doughboys of World War 1 was damaged in Astoria Thursday when a 77-year-old driver had a major medical event while driving and crashed into it.
Kent Johnson’s pickup hit the Doughboy Monument around 4 p.m. He was airlifted to a Portland hospital following the crash, which caused significant damage to the monument.
Ashlee Gilbertson, who works in an office next door and looks out over the monument, told KOIN 6 News she saw people running to get out of the way and then saw the pickup truck “flying up” right before the crash.
She heard a “big boom and when I saw it, the light fixture went flying, like it was in the middle of the roadway over there, and then his tire was going off, too.”
No one was hit when the truck hit the monument.
“The UPS guy kind of saved the day,” Gilbertson said. “He came and got (Johnson) out and he wasn’t moving. … Then all of a sudden the ambulance and stuff came.”
Gilbertson said it was scary and sad “because it’s such a good piece of history.”
Angela Cosby, the director of the Astoria Parks & Recreation Department, said the 91-year-old monument was scheduled to undergo some restoration next week using a grant from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Veterans. But that will be delayed.
“We are dedicated to getting this monument repaired and then continuing forward with that work,” Cosby said. “It probably just won’t be happening in the same timeline.”
Right now they’re cleaning up the sites and getting estimates for repair. Since the monument is on the National Historic Register, the repair will need to include consideration of what was there, what the materials were and follow specific standards, said Lucien Swerdloff, an instructor of historic preservation at Clatsop Community College.
“We have to follow what’s called the Secretary of the Interior standards, which basically is a set of guidelines that says these are the proper materials and methods and procedures that you should use to make sure you’re compatible with the historic structure,” Swerdloff said.
Cosby said the damage is unfortunate but they’re more concerned with Johnson.
“He was Life Flighted out of Astoria into Portland right after the accident, so we are hoping he recovers and we’ll work on repairing this.”