11:25 a.m. Thanks to their air bags, a shaken-up elderly couple survived a 15-foot plunge off an embankment on Elkader Street by the Southern Oregon University Science Building, leaving a dozen Ashland Fire & Rescue workers struggling for almost an hour to get them out.
The late model Chevy Classic sedan mowed down a group of small trees, ending up on its right side, 10 feet from the southwest corner of the science building, where a class was in progress.
Rescue workers roped the car's axle to an iron fence by the sidewalk, so it wouldn't roll over on them as they clambered to get inside the car and free the pair.
Paul and Elizabeth Daugherty were taken to Ashland Community Hospital for a checkup. Elizabeth Daugherty was able to walk, with help, to the ambulance, while her husband was carried by stretcher.
“It's a tricky corner,” their daughter Laura Daugherty said of the left curve on a steep downward pitch to Iowa Street. “We've lived on Elkader 30 years, but it can be icy and a lot of times students spot a parking space here and block the road making u-turns to get it.”
Rescue workers jammed “crib” stabilizers under the car, said fire department spokeswoman Margueritte Hickman, noting, “if the car's not stable, it could cause injuries to rescuers and that doesn't help when you're trying to get patients out. That's why we're not operating very fast. We have to think this out as we go.”
The car crashed at 9:21 and was not stabilized till 9:59, she said. Rescuers and tow truck operators left the car on its side while they extracted the couple at 10:12.
“Our main concern is which option is going to create the least challenge for the patients," Hickman said.
As tow workers yanked the car back up the hill, she added, “the success of the operation was because of the safety factors and no rescuers suffered any injuries.”
— John Darling
10:10 a.m. Rescue crews are working to free two men from a car that rolled down a steep embankment behind Southern Oregon University's science building.
The crash was reported at 9:21 this morning, dispatch records show.
Witnesses said the sedan was coming down Elkader Street, went over an embankment and rolled down a steep slope, coming to rest on its passenger side about 10 yards from the science building. The car's airbags deployed.
Ashland Fire & Rescue and police are at the scene. They have anchored the car with cables to prevent it from rolling onto rescuers. A firefighter has entered the car to check on the men in the car. The Jaws of Life are on the scene in case extrication help is needed.
We will have more details as they become available.