Woman out of hospital after head-on crash with wrong-way truck driver

PORTLAND, Ore. -- A 24-year-old woman was out of the hospital just hours after she was hit by an oncoming tractor-trailer driver barreling the wrong way along the Interstate 205 bridge on Monday morning.

Katherine M. Emerson was rushed to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center. By noon, the Vancouver woman had been discharged.

Contacted by KATU on Monday at her grandparents' house in Vancouver, Emerson said she was sore and shaken up from the crash. She had no visible scars and was able to stand and move around.

The driver, Kenneth E. Burgess, 49, whom police said was intoxicated during the crash, was arrested on suspicion of DUII, two counts of second-degree criminal mischief and reckless driving.

The crash snarled traffic for hours during the morning commute on I-205, Highway 14 in Vancouver and also tangled up Interstate 5 between Vancouver and Portland. All lanes of traffic on the I-205 bridge opened at about 10:30 a.m.

"It took me two hours just to get down Highway 14 to the I-5 bridge," said Matt Corneliuz.

The situation started just before 4:30 a.m., as Portland police officers began receiving reports that a driver of a tractor-trailer was heading the wrong way on Interstate 84.

Multnomah County sheriff's deputies began pursuing the truck westbound, which continued onto the I-205 bridge.

That's when the truck slammed into an oncoming vehicle -- driven by Emerson - on the bridge, just south of Vancouver.

A Portland police vehicle was damaged by crash debris and was towed from the scene.

A spokesman for TWT Refrigerated Service in Spokane, Wash., the company that operates the tractor-trailer, declined comment, citing the active investigation.

Burgess is from Medical Lake, Wash.

"I hope they pull his license and never let him drive again, to tell you the truth," said former truck driver Kerry Mortell. "It's absolutely ridiculous, what you can do when you're carrying a hundred thousand pounds. The damage you can do in one of those is absolutely insane."