Chain reaction - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Chain reaction

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Posted: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 12:00 am

COEUR d'ALENE - Multiple people were transported for medical care after a 13-vehicle accident on U.S. 95 on Tuesday afternoon, caused by a Penske truck that plowed through multiple lanes.

The truck heading northbound rammed several cars near the Kathleen Avenue intersection at roughly 2:40 p.m., the struck cars crashing into more vehicles to the side and front.

"It looks like it was a chain reaction," said Lt. Chris Schenck with Idaho State Police, as he glanced at the uneven line of crumpled and dented cars on the highway after the accident. "I haven't heard of this many vehicles in an accident in quite some time."

The section of U.S. 95 was closed off for roughly two hours, as officers with EMS, Coeur d'Alene police, ISP and Coeur d'Alene fire helped victims on the scene.

There were no fatalities, Schenck confirmed. Several people were carted away in ambulances, he said, though at mid afternoon he didn't know the total number or extent of injuries.

Michaela Olinger's Kia Spectra sat on the side of the road, the rear half crumpled like a tin can.

Olinger's was the first car struck by the truck, the 18-year-old said.

"At the very last second I saw him coming up and thought, 'Oh God, it's not slowing down,'" the Coeur d'Alene girl said, adding that the collision spun her car off the road.

Although Olinger wasn't injured, she said her friend, Chelsea Stillman, in the passenger seat had slammed her head and was bleeding. Olinger hadn't heard any news since Stillman was ferried to the hospital.

"I'm really worried about my friend," she said.

Bob Grimm had been in the northbound turn lane, he said, when he realized the Penske truck had smashed into vehicles a few cars back and was still coming on strong.

"It sounded like a train coming," said the Coeur d'Alene man, whose Toyota Tundra was only dented on the side by another car.

To the right of Grimm's Toyota, a maroon Chevy Malibu was smashed on both ends. It was facing the wrong direction.

"That little red car was airborne," Grimm said of how he saw the car fly through the air. "The truck driver, she just missed me."

He saw the Penske driver, Pamela Gentis, 56, of Reno, Nev., loaded into an ambulance, he added.

Kelly Glenn of Coeur d'Alene, whose Ford Expedition was one of the last cars hit, called herself one of the lucky ones.

She had watched the yellow truck blaze into cars behind her, she said.

"It crossed all the lanes of traffic. It didn't stop until there was nowhere else to go," said Glenn, who wasn't injured after her truck was struck from behind. "It was like one of those action movies, where you see a truck barreling through all the cars."

Jaylene Mortensen said that seconds before the accident, she glanced into the rearview mirror to check on her baby in the back seat.

"I saw this yellow truck coming toward me," the Hayden woman said. "It didn't look like it was slowing down at all."

Her Dodge Ram was only scraped on the side, she said, but another car ended up lodged beneath her truck.

"Luckily mine was the larger vehicle," she said after she carefully steered her car out of the wreckage.

The rear wheels of the Penske truck were "still spinning" after it stopped, Mortensen added.

"It didn't hit the brakes at all," she said.

Her infant was wailing afterward, she said, but both mother and daughter were unscathed.

"We didn't even get whiplashed," Mortensen said. "Others were not so lucky."

The crash is still under investigation and further information will be released as it is compiled, police said.

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  • IDJeepgurl posted at 7:44 am on Thu, Oct 25, 2012.

    IDJeepgurl Posts: 67

    If you all would like to see better and more pictures of the accident, go to Imagine that, Boise news had a better story than ANY of our local news stations...

  • SteveBrad posted at 4:54 am on Thu, Oct 25, 2012.

    SteveBrad Posts: 3

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  • CaiusCosades posted at 8:48 pm on Wed, Oct 24, 2012.

    CaiusCosades Posts: 380

    I think there may be some misinterpretation here as to what I'm saying. If you log into CDApress a lot, you will see that suspiciously when something happens that cdapress reports on, and there's a victim, it seems like that victim always makes an account on this website immediately to talk about the incident. I feel that someone is pretending to be the victim, making fake profiles pretending to be the victim. I just find it odd or suspicious that it never fails, and I think there's someone out there who makes pretend victim profiles, that's all.

    I think it's great we have local people who know what they're talking about. I wish we had more of them.

  • wolf0512 posted at 8:40 pm on Wed, Oct 24, 2012.

    wolf0512 Posts: 9

    well to all of you who think you know about those trucks just because it has a 26,000 GVW does not mean that the person who rented the truck has to load to that plus rent it as a moveing truck they do not have to stop at the scales like an 18 wheelers do. Not only that they don't look to see if the person renting the truck has a CDL or any time in a truck of this size so any one with a class D lic can go down and get one and think that there a truck driver and not have even the smallest clue on how to drive a big truck

  • CHSdad posted at 8:39 pm on Wed, Oct 24, 2012.

    CHSdad Posts: 378

    Caius, what is so strange about people responding on here who know what they are talking about? Rare, yes, but not strange.

  • CaiusCosades posted at 6:09 pm on Wed, Oct 24, 2012.

    CaiusCosades Posts: 380

    I'm surprised all the victims didn't immediately create profiles and start commenting immediately like they do on every other article where there is a victim. Doesn't anyone else find this strange?

  • My2sence posted at 4:08 pm on Wed, Oct 24, 2012.

    My2sence Posts: 317

    BTW, it is a 26 foot van, not 28 as I first thought. My bad

  • My2sence posted at 4:06 pm on Wed, Oct 24, 2012.

    My2sence Posts: 317

    "that 28 footer is still legal up to 16 tons" it's not, this moving van has a 26000 GVW and a 17000 pound payload, (how much it can carry) which means 26K divided by 2K (US ton) equals 8.5 ton, not 16 ton

    JW lets be glad that there were no fatalaties, and hope that this was not intentional.

  • NAS4AH2 posted at 4:04 pm on Wed, Oct 24, 2012.

    NAS4AH2 Posts: 71

    Oh stop your bickering!! I was chewing on the drivers neck. That's what caused it.

  • CEDRICWARD posted at 3:57 pm on Wed, Oct 24, 2012.

    CEDRICWARD Posts: 2

    I only read the article to get and idea of what happened as I travel through that intersection every time I go to town. Unfortunately, I bothered to read the comments section and find, once again, that we seem to have far too many people who like to comment beyond the facts given in the article making many wild assumptions about any and every thing.
    I would hate to have any of you on a jury determining my fate.
    If you don't have anything better to do with your lives, please refrain from putting your often worthless comments on the internet. I have now lost several minutes of my life I can't get back.

  • My2sence posted at 12:59 pm on Wed, Oct 24, 2012.

    My2sence Posts: 317

    Well....where I got my information ( that I spoke of ) is, why dontc'ha go have a looksie. I didn't assume anything.
    It's a 28 foot "single axle" moving van, just like I said.

  • My2sence posted at 11:18 am on Wed, Oct 24, 2012.

    My2sence Posts: 317

    Everyone knows this Penske "truck" is a moving van right? not saying it isn't heavy, but I think people are getting the impression it's an 18 wheeler or something, nowhere near 15-40 ton hauling capacity, even the 28 footers, never the less, this moving van must have been "hauling @$$" to plow through all those vehicles & make the red car become "airborne" sheesh.

  • DeNiles posted at 7:07 am on Wed, Oct 24, 2012.

    DeNiles Posts: 2450

    I'd guess driver inop likely medical related. The rate of speed is of interest. I've seen these commercial sized trucks punching the limits fairly routinely. Newer vehicles have autobrake sensor systems that would have helped a great deal in this situation. Perhaps all larger trucks should be required to retrofit these devices?

  • concernedcitizen posted at 5:51 am on Wed, Oct 24, 2012.

    concernedcitizen Posts: 2530


    How does one try to make a red light with stopped cares in front of them? I agree with veeeee, this driver either had something happen to them, the truck lost its breaks or could not stop for some other reason. That is why there is an investigation.

    I DO agree that there is a problem with red light runners tho. :)

  • Veeeee posted at 5:42 am on Wed, Oct 24, 2012.

    Veeeee Posts: 413

    I read another news report that stated the truck driver may have had a medical condition of some kind. Would like to hear a follow up on this story, and also glad no one was seriously injured.

  • voxpop posted at 4:20 am on Wed, Oct 24, 2012.

    voxpop Posts: 738

    Another fool trying to make the light AFTER it turns red? I'm actually surprised this doesn't happen most days.

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