A cartruck crash on U.S. Highway 95 Wednesday sent five men to the hospital and nearly ripped one vehicle in half.
Three of the men were being cared for in Kootenai Medical Center’s intensive care unit.
Ken Ashby, 41, and Steve Overman, 41, both of Coeur d’Alene, were headed north on Highway 95 in a flatbed truck.
Dennis Hammeren, 26; his brother Duane Hammeren, 25; and their friend Eric Russo, 25, were headed south in a Hyundai car.
Dennis Hammeren made a left turn onto Rockford Bay Road, pulling in front of the oncoming truck, said Idaho State Police officials.
“He said he didn’t see the truck until the last minute,” said Cpl. Pete Bowes.
The pickup rammed into the side of the car, ripping it open and wrenching the back end around the side. The truck then rolled and landed on its top.
None of the men was wearing seat belts, and all five were thrown from their vehicles, Bowes said.
From her home across the highway, Barbara Russell could hear a man hollering for help.
She walked amid the ripped metal, broken glass and injured men.
“I saw someone lying on the ground and the guy turned over, and I was, like, ‘Oh my God, Dennis,”’ she said. That’s how she learned two of the victims were her friends.
“My heart just went up into my throat. He was telling me, ‘See how my brother is.”’
She found Duane Hammeren of Hayden Lake screaming in pain from severe head injuries.
Hearing another man moaning, Russell walked over to the remains of the car to find her other friend, Russo of Hayden Lake.
The injured man asked Russell to call his ex-wife and tell her he loved her.
After police arrived she did as he asked.
“I told her, ‘He told me to tell you he loves you,’ but I also told her he’s not going to be dead.”’ Russell said, wiping away tears.
Duane Hammeren was flown to Kootenai Medical Center in a helicopter. The other four men were taken by ambulance.
The Hammeren brothers and Russo were being treated in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Duane Hammeren was listed in critical condition while his brother and Russo were listed in fair condition Wednesday night.
Ashby and Overman were treated and released.
Cpl. Bowes said Dennis Hammeren may be cited for the wreck. The Coeur d’Alene man was not driving legally. His license had been suspended for failure to maintain insurance, Bowes said.
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