News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Truck got stuck at Suttle Lake

A semitruck driver who was apparently seeking a place to rest for the night got badly stuck at Suttle Lake last week. His damaged truck ultimately had to be hauled out by a towing crew.

Black Butte Police responded to a 911 call about the incident at about 7:45 p.m. on Thursday, August 11.

The driver attempted to make a turn the truck could not negotiate and ran over boulders and stumps. The truck’s cargo container was crunched and it popped a tire, leaving it stranded.

Carly Veith witnessed the incident.

“A bunch of girlfriends and I were camping,” she said. “There was a giant orange semi that was way too big to be in the campground, so we noticed it.”

She and other campers watched the driver try and fail to negotiate the winding road, bashing up the truck and the forest.

“It was scary at first,” she said. “Everybody in the campground was watching this and saying, ‘What is this guy doing?’”

Veith called 911 and Black Butte Ranch Police responded. Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office has jurisdiction at Suttle Lake, but deputies were unavailable and Oregon State Police had no troopers immediately available. Black Butte Ranch often responds to incidents in the area through mutual aid agreements, due to the proximity of the Ranch.

As of Monday morning, BBR Police did not have a completed report on the incident and could not confirm whether or not the driver was cited.

According to Veith, an officer talked with the driver and determined that he was not impaired.

“They just left him there to sleep in his cab overnight,” she said.

More than 24 hours passed after the truck careened to a halt, bending wheels and axle over a large stump, before it could be removed. Traffic snafus prevented campers from driving to their sites, or from being able to exit the campground.

Some campers set out lawn chairs and busted out their preferred beverages, watching the scene. Workers brought a crane and a flatbed tow truck for what looked like a severely dented chassis, snarled-up axle and wheels.

The tow company also sent a special semi for hauling out the twisted orange container the trucker had been hauling. In addition to the crane, workers engaged the help of two nearby ponderosa trees, anchoring the container with large straps, the trees providing leverage.

Various officials, some looking angry, others bewildered, came and went. Observed by campers were the Black Butte police; U.S. Forest Service; Deschutes Recreation, the campground’s management company; and a Jefferson County Sheriff deputy.

“It was an adventure,” said Jim from Gerlock Towing as they finally, with heavy equipment including a crane, drove off with the truck container.

Folks around the campground clapped and hollered their thanks.

It was a busy week at the campground, where lightning struck a massive, ancient conifer a few days before. As in the case of the mysterious trucker, no one was hurt.


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