Police: Driver holding breath in tunnel faints, causes crash

Police: Driver holding breath in tunnel faints, causes crash »Play Video
(Photo: Oregon State Police)

MANNING, Ore. – A 19-year-old man who held his breath while driving through a tunnel on Highway 26 fainted and caused a three-vehicle crash Sunday afternoon, state police said.

Daniel J. Calhoon of Snohomish, Wash., was driving a Toyota Camry west of Manning when he fainted in a tunnel. His car crossed the center line and crashed head-on into an SUV, according to police.

Both vehicles crashed into the tunnel walls and a pickup truck crashed into the Camry.

Four people were injured. Police said none of the injuries was life-threatening.

Calhoon and his passenger, Bradley Meyring, were taken by ambulance to a Portland hospital.

The two people in the SUV were also taken to a hospital.

Doctor Sarah Winslow of Adventist Health says the impact of holding your breath while trying to drive at the same time, can be unpredictable.

“I'm sure the person that did this didn't know that they were gonna pass out," Dr. Winslow said. "They probably thought 'Oh, I'll just start breating again.' It's sad that they had so much effect from playing a game.”

Calhoon was cited for assault (4th degree), reckless driving and three counts of reckless endangering.

State Police Lt. Gregg Hastings said Monday he's not sure why Calhoon was holding his breath, but some people hold their breaths in tunnels as part of a game or superstition.
    
The tunnel, called the Dennis L. Edwards Tunnel, was completed in 1940 and carries the highway through the Northern Oregon Coast Range mountains. It's 772 feet long, meaning that a car traveling at the posted speed limit of 55 mph would get through it in about 10 seconds.

KATU's Bob Heye and The Associated Press contributed to this story.