Driver expects full recovery from injuries
sustained during debris slide on Idaho 55
George Patton detected something unusual in his peripheral
vision as he was driving on Idaho 55 between Cascade and Boise.
It didnt register, however, until a log glanced off
the hood of his car, shattered the windshield and then continued
rolling downhill until it came to rest in the Payette River.
He and his wife Mary found themselves in the midst of a snow
and rock slide on Jan. 31. One of this winters many
snowstorms in the Payette River canyon, left a new layer of
heavy, wet snow on earlier accumulations. Hillsides along
the highway were prone to occasional slides especially
given the ideal conditions so George and Mary were
aware of the potential.
Still, they were caught off guard by the slide that demolished
their 1994 Ford Taurus. After the log hit the front of their
car, a second one careened down the hill and caved in the
driversside doors. While the latter may have resulted
in more damage to the car, it was the first log, Mary speculated,
that resulted in injuries to George.
After ITD and other volunteers cut a swath through the debris
to an awaiting ambulance, George was taken to Banks and then
transported via helicopter to St. Alphonsus Regional Medical
Center in Boise. He had surgery on two broken vertebrae and
remained hospitalized nearly two weeks
George, who is 64, continues to recover at home; the prognosis
for a full recovery is excellent and there should be no long-term
effects, his wife said. Mary sustained minor facial lacerations
from the broken windshield but was not hospitalized.
The couple has lived in Cascade since marrying 30 years ago.
George was a sawmill worker for Boise Cascade until January
2000 when he was granted a medical retirement.
They have traveled Idaho 55 regularly the past three decades
and know the highway and its potential hazards
fairly well, Mary said. But the rock and snow slide happened
so quickly, they could not avoid being caught in the ordeal.
Her advice for other motorists traveling Idahos highways
in the winter? When conditions look ripe or are conducive
to a slide, dont take the trip, Mary said.
Idaho 55 has been closed for brief periods because of the
potential for rock, snow and debris slides. Drivers are encouraged
to check road conditions before embarking on a trip and be
especially vigilant at night for rocks on the highway.