A Sanders County man had a “wild ride” to close out 2018 when the vehicle he was driving went off Montana Highway 200, flipped over and landed in the Clark Fork River the evening of Sunday, Dec. 30. He escaped with minor injuries.
According to Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Steve Spurr, he received an emergency call just after 7 p.m. He responded to the area of milepost 88 after it was reported that a vehicle was in the river.
Spurr said that Kris Beech, a 24-year-old Paradise resident, was driving a 2006 Dodge Durango westbound on Highway 200 — in what is known as the Perma Bends — when he failed to negotiate a left curve six miles east of Paradise.
The Durango went off the roadway, crashed through a cable barrier — traveling along on the rocky embankment on the south edge of the river. The vehicle then rolled into the water.
“It was upside down in the river,” Spurr said late last week. “He (Beech) punched out the left rear window with his hand to break it (the glass). The driver’s side was crumpled.”
According to Spurr, Beech was able to escape through the broken window and he walked to shore on a cold evening. He was the only occupant of the vehicle.
Spurr reported that the pavement was wet, but not icy at the time of the incident.
“In his exact words, he was ‘not paying attention,’” the trooper said of the driver, who was cited for careless driving and a seat belt violation.
In addition to Spurr, Plains Ambulance and Plains/Paradise Rural Fire Department units and personnel responded to the scene.
Beech was transported to Clark Fork Valley Hospital in Plains and was treated and released, according to Spurr.