Vernonia logger arrested after rollover hurts children

Michael Pihl

A roll-over accident Wednesday evening critically injured a three-year old passenger and sent Vernonia logging company owner Michael Pihl to jail on charges third-degree assault and three counts of recklessly endangering another person.

Oregon State Police say the accident was alcohol-related.

According to OSP, Pihl was driving a Jeep CJ5 with its top off in his private driveway on Nehalem Highway around 8 p.m. He accelerated and lost control, OSP said, and the Jeep rolled over onto its top in a ditch.

None of the three children were restrained in safety belts or safety seats and one of them, age 3, was pinned underneath the Jeep's roll bar. Mathias Pihl was transported by LifeFlight to Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland for treatment of a head injury. Mike Pihl, 48, and the other two children - Mathias' twin sister, Rylee, and Jayda Pihl, age 5 - were taken to Emanuel by ambulance with minor injuries.

Subsequent investigation led to the arrest of Michael Pihl upon his release from the hospital and he was lodged at Columbia County Jail on the assault and reckless endangering charges. He posted bail and is set to appear in Columbia County Circuit Court at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 14.

Although the accident was determined to be alcohol-related, Pihl was not charged with driving under the influence of intoxicants because the crash occurred on private property, said OSP Lt. Gregg Hastings.

Pihl, the son of former Washington County judge Hollie Pihl, was recently featured in the "Ax Men" reality TV series that aired on the History Channel.

Officers from Oregon State Police, Columbia County Sheriff's Office and Vernonia Police Department responded to the scene with Vernonia Fire Department.

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