The condition of a 61-year-old woman who was allegedly intoxicated when she crashed Sunday into a pickup on the shoulder of Interstate 205 has improved.
A PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center spokesperson said Tuesday that Marlene F. Trueax of Milwaukie, Ore., was upgraded from critical to satisfactory condition.
Troopers say Trueax will face DUI charges for the crash — caught on video and widely shared on social media — about 4 miles north of Vancouver.
At about 6:45 p.m. Sunday, a green 2000 Plymouth van driven by Trueax was northbound on I-205 at Milepost 35, on the right shoulder, when it struck a disabled, gray 1984 Chevrolet C-10 pickup from behind. The impact flipped the van onto its top, and it came to rest in the right lane, according to a Washington State Patrol crash memo.
The driver of the pickup, identified as Nathan N. McGuire, 33, of Ridgefield, was injured but was not taken to a hospital. His passenger, 34-year-old Jessica R. Lester of Ridgefield, was also injured but was not transported, according to the crash memo.
Before medics arrived, a group of Samaritans banded together to help Trueax.
Craig Robbins said he was driving directly behind the van for about a minute, watching as it swerved on and off the freeway several times before hitting the pickup.
Robbins, a dentist and professor at Oregon Health & Science University’s School of Dentistry, pulled off the road and went directly to the van to help; his wife called 911. He wasn’t the only person already on scene with emergency medical training. There were also two nurses and a retired police officer who leapt into action, he said.
The nurses and officer took charge, Robbins said. The woman inside the van was bleeding from her head and eye. She was unresponsive and not breathing. The group of Samaritans couldn’t detect a pulse, he said.
One of the nurses determined Trueax’s airway was likely blocked because she was upside down, pinned against the roof of her car. The nurse decided Trueax needed to be removed from the van, Robbins said.
“The retired police officer cut the seat belt as I pried open her door. We then turned her and lowered her onto her back in preparation to perform CPR,” Robbins said.
As soon as they repositioned her, Trueax began breathing again, according to Robbins.
It was only a few minutes later that Washington State Patrol troopers showed up. Clark County Fire & Rescue crews arrived shortly thereafter.
For Robbins, his wife and their four children, it was an unexpected end to a day of sightseeing and fruit picking outside of Hood River, Ore. Robbins credits the nurse, whose name he did not catch, with saving Trueax’s life.