“I had no idea it was coming”: ODOT employee recalls tree toppling onto his car

HERMISTON, Ore. — Let’s say you’re cruising along the highway when a massive tree suddenly falls on top of your vehicle. Sounds terrifying, doesn’t it? Well, that was the case for Beau Appling, a seven-year employee of the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT).

KAPP KVEW’s Margo Cady spoke to Beau, whose car was assaulted by a toppling tree while he was driving on a highway in Oregon.

“I never saw it start to fall. I had no idea it was coming until the branch smacked my windshield,” Appling said. “My job, it’s pretty ingrained that, top priority is to get the road open. You know, as soon as I absorbed what happened, and everything became clear, I just merely went out and got to work.”

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Appling’s first instinct was to pull over and radio ODOT for help, but once he got out of his car and assessed the damage, he realized that his communication equipment was damaged in the crash.

By this point, several drivers who were backed up in traffic exited their vehicles and began to help him clear the roadway.

Someone contacted the authorities and the Oregon State Police escorted a logging company to the scene of the tree collapse. They were able to successfully clear the highway, allowing traffic to resume passing through that stretch.

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After the hard work was over with, Appling realized that he might have caught this incident on camera.

“Seeing that tree just leaning and then instantly start to fall, and then as I’m approaching, just barely skirting under it, very mind blowing,” Appling said. “At that point, that’s where I stepped back and put my hands up on my head and just had to breathe for a minute. That’s when the shock started to set in.”

Thankfully, Beau escaped the tree collapse without any serious injuries. No one crashed or got injured while teams cleared branches from the road and what could’ve been an hourslong traffic incident was cleared up shortly after.

You can take a look at the initial social media post by ODOT below:


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