10/24/2014

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Police: Drunken driver arrested after driving into MAX tunnel

Police: Drunken driver arrested after driving into MAX tunnel

PORTLAND, Ore. – Police arrested a man who they said was drunk when he drove his car into a TriMet MAX tunnel in Southwest Portland early Wednesday morning.

James Dejarnette, 28, faces DUII and reckless driving charges. Police said he drove his car onto the tracks and into the tunnel just after 5 a.m.

"It's very, very clear to anybody driving down there not to go that direction," said TriMet spokeswoman Roberta Altstadt. "You would have to be impaired or very, very confused."

Police believe Dejarnette accessed the tracks at the Goose Hollow MAX station. It's the only spot before the Robertson Tunnel where a small car might be able to drive onto the tracks. But Altstadt is surprised the driver kept going, driving nearly 400 feet into the tunnel.

"We switch from paved track down to what we called ballast track," said Altstadt. "It's very bumpy and very hard to drive."

A bumpy ride may not be enough of a warning for someone who's impaired. In February of 2008, a driver did the same thing. But that driver went much farther, driving halfway through the three-mile tunnel, coming to a stop at the Washington Park MAX station under the Oregon Zoo.

TriMet officials don't immediately see this as a need to make any access changes.

"After every incident we do have to take a look at it to see if anything should be done," said Altstadt. "But at this point, most people choose not to drive down the tracks. It's very clear this is not an auto tunnel."

In Wednesday's incident, MAX service was restored at 9 a.m.

 

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