Lucky to be alive: Man survives after being sandwiched between 2 semis

An Oregon man's vehicle was mangled by a semi-truck -- with him in it.

He was injured in the crash, but as we're now learning, it could have been a lot worse.

"When I was sitting in the pickup I didn't feel like it was as bad as it is when you step out and look at it."

After seeing the picture of Kaleb Whitby in his mangled pickup truck, it seems amazing that he survived the crash.

"The fog was a lot thicker than I liked so I went ahead and slowed back down," said Whitby.

He was traveling eastbound on Interstate 84 near Baker City around 6 a.m. when in the fog, he saw brake lights.

"I noticed that the truck that was in front of me started to sway."

When the semi truck in front of him jack knifed, he hit it.

"That ended up pushing my back end out into traffic and there was a semi that was behind me and he ended up hitting my bed which then folded that underneath the first truck and my nose underneath his truck."

Whitby's Chevrolet ended up sandwiched between two trailers.

"I was just praying, this cant' be my time and just hoping that everything would be OK and be taken back to family and taken care of."

The only part of the truck that remained somewhat intact was the driver's seat.

"Stepping out of the vehicle and stepping out onto the road, people were slipping and sliding everywhere. just tying to help," he said.

The black ice led to a crash scene that involved 50 cars and trucks.  20 of them were damaged.  It closed down the eastbound lanes of I-84 for hours and sent 12 people to the hospital, including Whitby.  But it turned out to be just a precaution.  Amazingly, he suffered only a cut above his eye and a few scratches.

"I'm just glad to be alive. a lot of people don't get that luxury and you just gotta make the best of it," said Whitby.

12 injured in massive Interstate 84 crash in eastern Oregon

BAKER CITY, Ore. (AP) -- Black ice is believed to be the cause of a freeway pileup involving more than a dozen tractor-trailers that left 12 people injured Saturday in eastern Oregon, police said.

The 26-vehicle pileup left a long stretch of Interstate 84 closed for most of the day as crews worked to clean spilled diesel fuel and clear away dozens of vehicles that were either damaged or stranded.

12 people were treated for injuries at a Baker City hospital, with four of them then going to other hospitals with more serious injuries, Oregon State Police Sgt. Kyle Hove said. Police had initially reported just four people hurt. There were no fatalities.

The crash occurred shortly before 5 a.m. east of Baker City, about 130 miles northwest of Boise, Idaho.

Hove arrived on the scene to find "a sheet of ice" on the roadway. Troopers are still investigating, but Hove said he believes it was a chain-reaction crash.

"A couple of the trucks came upon the black ice, and they jackknifed and crashed into each other. And it just continued to escalate," Hove told The Associated Press by phone.

Authorities updated their report hours after the crash, increasing the number of vehicles directly involved from 20 to 26, and saying that the pileup left 50 to 70 vehicles stranded at the scene.

There were several separate collisions over a stretch of about three-quarters of a mile in the eastbound lanes, Hove said. He said many of the damaged vehicles were tractor-trailers, and several spilled their loads.

Two trucks were transporting hazardous materials. Their cargo did not spill, but crews had to clean up diesel from the trucks' fuel tanks.

"We understand it's frustrating when the freeway is closed like this," said Tom Srandberg, a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Transportation. "Our primary concern is safety, and (we) want to make sure everything is cleared by our hazmat folks before we let any traffic through the areas."

Interstate 84 links Salt Lake City with Portland, Oregon, and is the primary east-west highway through eastern Oregon. The eastbound lanes were closed for several hours but officials said at least one lane was reopening Saturday night. Westbound lanes were closed temporarily near the crash site.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press modified.
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