Skilled chopper pilot squeezes into crash scene

A LifeFlight helicopter takes off from the surface of U.S. Highway 101 three miles north of the Pacific County line about 10:30 a.m. Sept. 16 after emergency crews loaded a seriously injured patient from a two-truck accident. The collision happened at 9:37 a.m. at milepost 72. WSP Detective Jason R. Roe reported that a truck driven by Ryan T. Long, 31, of Spanaway, was driving south when he tried to overtake another vehicle and was in a head-on collision with a Ford pick-up traveling north. Long was unhurt. The driver of the pick-up, James R. Denke, 44, of Everett, was transported to Harbor Regional Health Community Hospital in Aberdeen. His passenger, Montanna R. Driver, 25, of Pasco, was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. WSP reported neither were wearing seatbelts. Both vehicles, which came to rest on the shoulder, were totaled. The highway was blocked for 90 minutes. The pilot skillfully set the aircraft down in a very tight space between roadside power lines and the tree-covered cliff on the other side of the highway. The Washington State Patrol, Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Office and the Aberdeen Fire District were among agencies that responded with rescue units.

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