An Astoria man crashed a gray Chevrolet Silverado truck into the Doughboy Monument in Uniontown late Thursday afternoon, damaging the east side of the World War I memorial.
“This has been hit before, but not to this extent,” said Astoria Fire Lt. Terry Corbit, a 27-year veteran of the department.
Kent Johnson, 77, was taken to Columbia Memorial Hospital and flown by Life Flight Network to a hospital in Portland. He was conscious but unable to give many details at the scene, Corbit said.
Preliminary information indicates Johnson suffered a medical emergency prior to the crash just before 4 p.m., Astoria Police Deputy Chief Eric Halverson said.
Police responded to a report of a driver who had hit a curb and sideswiped another car before striking the monument on the corner of Marine Drive and Columbia Avenue. Angela Cosby, the director of the Astoria Parks and Recreation Department, said the 91-year-old monument — listed in the National Register of Historic Places — sustained major damage.
The crash sent a small light post flying about 20 feet, cracked concrete edges at the base of the monument and left truck parts sprawled across the ground. Another lamp post was also taken down after it was damaged, and there was significant cracking above the door to a restroom below.
“We’ll work as quickly as possible, but it’ll likely be a few months before the monument is repaired,” Cosby said. “It’s sad to see a really important monument to our veterans damaged, but our concern is with the man involved in the crash and his well-being.”
Cosby said the city will be working on an estimate of the damage and a repair plan after specialists examine the site. Renovation work on the monument that had been scheduled for early September will be delayed.
Corbit said he and other firefighters were driving west on Marine Drive to complete a separate errand when they came upon the crash scene.
Kim Lament, who lives just up the hill and has a view of the Astoria Bridge from her house, said she heard the sound while she was inside.
“I looked up at the bridge and thought, ‘Oh, maybe that was metal,’” she said.