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Police: Lane County men crash while taking turns pulling emergency brake on freeway

Police say the collision caused the Honda to spin backwards into the steel shoulder barrier, which collapsed the entire rear-end of the car, puncturing through the rear seat at an angle and forcing the rear passenger-side door open. (Springfield Police Department photo)

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- Two Lane County men were arrested following a crash just after midnight Friday morning that sent one person to the hospital, Springfield Police Department reports.

Springfield officers responded to the crash on the off-ramp of Hwy 126 westbound at Mohawk Blvd.

According to the report, a 2004 Honda Accord, driven by 26-year-old Derek William Willits of Springfield, lost control as it exited the freeway and slid several hundred feet sideways until clipping a reflective shoulder marker.

That collision caused the Honda to spin backwards into the steel shoulder barrier, which collapsed the entire rear-end of the car, puncturing through the rear seat at an angle and forcing the rear passenger-side door open.

Police say the rear passenger was sitting behind the driver, likely saving his life. He was later transported to a hospital with a fractured back and laceration to his head.

Police say they then attempted to free the vehicle, but after close inspection from several angles, determined it was unlikely.

At that point, an officer arrived and the front-seat passenger, 26-year-old Matthew Chandler York of Eugene, fled, despite orders to stop. A short foot chase ensued and he was detained without incident, the report said.

The investigation revealed that Willits was driving impaired, police said.

"He and York (front seat passenger) were taking turns pulling the emergency brake while on the freeway trying to cause momentary slides," Springfield Police said in a news release.

The off-ramp was closed for roughly 30 minutes while crews from multiple tow companies worked to free the car from the barrier.

Both Willits and York were lodged at the Springfield Municipal Jail.

Willits was charged with DUII and reckless driving while York was charged with interfering with police and reckless endangering.

Police say additional charges are possible.

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