It’s been a long and difficult week for the family of Chris Levno, the pickup truck driver badly hurt in last week’s fatal crash on the Astoria Bridge.

“This whole thing has been surreal,” said his wife Carolyn Levno, through tears.

“Instead of getting better, he’s getting worse. That’s the biggest shock to me. It’s spiraled the other way and now it honestly scares me if he’ll live.”

Levno is in serious condition in the Intensive Care Unit at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland.

The 57 year old was struck head-on at 5:30 a.m. May 2.

He was on his way to work at the Wauna Mill where he is an instrumentation technician.

He never made it.

“That’s not the phone call you want to wake up to, I can tell you that,” Carolyn Levno said.

The Levnos live on the Long Beach (Wash.) Peninsula and have owned RE/MAX Excellence in Long Beach and Ocean Park, Wash., for six years. The Oregon State Police originally reported Levno was from Kelso, Wash., because he had not changed his driver’s license.

Levno’s biggest obstacle is a lung infection. “He’s fighting hard,” his wife said.

So far, her husband has had four surgeries. He has rods in both of his legs and plates throughout his body. More plates are expected, but any further operations have been halted until his lungs recover and the swelling in his legs goes down.

He is not awake or alert. He’s on a ventilator and a feeding tube.

“He came in alert, which was amazing,” Carolyn Levno said. “He was talking when I got here. I was behind him quite a bit because I had to get through the accident to get here. But after that, the trauma caught up with him and his body kind of woke up and realized what was going on. It started shutting down.

“Before that, he was talking about what happened. He saw the car coming at him. I don’t know how he’ll deal with the trauma of crossing that spot again. He remembered the airbag knocking the wind out of him. He remembered them using the jaws of life to cut him out of the truck.”

The driver of the car that hit him, Nolan Benson, 27, of Long Beach, Wash., died at the scene. Investigators believe Benson may have fallen asleep at the wheel. An official cause of the crash is pending toxicology results that could take several weeks to return.

Levno was trapped inside his Toyota Tundra, balanced over the edge of the Columbia River on the bridge guardrail for an hour until emergency personnel could free his legs.

He was taken to Columbia Memorial Hospital before being transferred to the hospital in Portland. He’s battling a compression fracture of his spine in multiple places, a spiral fracture in his left femur, breaks in his left tibia and fibula that were pressed against the skin, and compound fractures to his right tibia and fibula that had to be cleaned out.

His femur recovery put him in traction. The left leg was immediately set to prevent further damage to his skin. Both ankles were dislocated and broken, along with multiple foot and toe fractures on both feet.

His family has been using the Caring Bridge website to keep Levno’s co-workers, family, friends and community up to date.

“Today they did surgery on the spiral fracture left femur,” his daughter Julie wrote May 3. “They put a rod in it. When he came out of surgery they started having problems keeping his oxygen levels up where they needed to be. At that point they moved him to the ICU. Once he was ‘awake’ he was fairly incoherent.”

Since then, he has had a blood transfusion, a feeding tube inserted, fluid drained from his lungs and his oxygen level monitored because his lungs are struggling to keep up. The cause of that is what doctors think is blunt force trauma to the chest, complicated by multiple surgeries and the inability to fully fill his lungs with air, Carolyn Levno wrote on the site.

“Everyone has been nice and helpful,” she said. “I have a strong faith and family, but I have my moments. It’s not easy seeing your husband of 37 years laying there.”

The Levnos have two children, Julie and Pete.

Pete and his wife Jamie live five minutes from Legacy Emanuel in Portland.

The Levnos also have three grandchildren, although they are too young to be allowed in the ICU.

“I know they say it’s not that serious, given the circumstances, but if blood clots break loose, we’re going to have issues – big ones,” she said.

For information on Levno’s condition and to send wishes, log on to the website at www.caringbridge.org/visit/chrislevno

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