“A Linfield student and an alumna were hospitalized Oct. 18 when an allegedly drunken driver crashed into them while they were crossing Davis Street.
Senior Celeste Wilson of Linfield’s Portland campus and Justine Pillar, class of ’10, were hit by Daniel Algeo, 45, of McMinnville.
Pillar was carried by Life Flight to Emmanual Hospital in Portland. Wilson was taken to McMinnville Hospital.
Algeo was charged with a DUI and third-degree assault. Both women have been released from the hospital.
The crash stunned students and residents living near the intersection of Davis and Ford streets.
“I heard what I thought were fireworks,” junior James Rhodes said. “I came outside and saw the accident. There were several people calling 9-1-1.”
Witnesses said that Algeo slammed on his brakes before hitting the women.
“I heard brakes, then a thump, and I turned around and saw someone lying in the road and called 9-1-1,”
Doug Deets, a security guard for Prostar Security, said.
At the time of the accident, Deets was working at the Theta Chi Fraternity house as a security guard for a toga party.
Sophomore Aaron Granum witnessed the entirety of the accident.
“The girls came out onto the road suddenly,” he said. “Justine [Pillar] passed between two cars [in the lead]. If you were a driver, you couldn’t see them.”
Witnesses all said they heard brakes, and Granum said he saw Algeo decelerating before he hit the wom en. He also said Algeo appeared to be going the speed limit before the accident.
Granum said he saw Wilson take a glancing blow from Algeo’s pickup truck, but Pillar was struck head-on.
“The only way I could describe it is [as] a ragdoll,” Granum said. “You take it and drop it on the ground in whatever inhuman position it fell in. It was grotesque.”
He said the sound of the impact, which alerted many of the people who called 9-1-1, was equally frightening.
“It sounded like a car hitting another car,” he said. “It was amazingly loud. Deceptively loud.”
Pillar, the woman thrown by the impact, was in so much pain she couldn’t communicate, Granum said.
“She did say ‘help me,’ but after that she was so injured she couldn’t make normal sounds,” he said. “She was unable to say coherent words. Justine [Pillar] was not movable until the medics arrived.”
Granum said that Algeo seemed to know that Pillar should remain untouched until the medics arrived in case she had a spinal injury.
“I’d say he might have been in shock,” Granum said. “He was calm and not in a panic. His first words were ‘Don’t touch her.’ He seemed concerned about her.”
Granum also said he thought the accident was not caused by Algeo’s intoxication.
“He did not appear to be a hazardous driver,” he said. “He did not seem intoxicated.
I don’t think the scenario could have been avoided if he was sober.”
Granum said he called 9-1-1 within 10 seconds of the accident, but by then the operator had enough information to finish his sentences.
“I was really impressed by people’s reactions,” he said. “It was good to see a genuine emotional response.“
Granum said students huddled into small groups that night. Some were strangers to the injured women trying to understand what happened. Others were comforting friends of the injured women, Granum said. One group was praying for the girls’ well-being.
Paramedics from the McMinnville Fire Department were on the scene first, followed by an ambulance and several police cars.
“The paramedics were there within a few minutes,” Granum said. “But it felt like a lifetime.””