Employee and husband injured after car collision near campus

By The Beacon | March 23, 2011 9:00pm

(Photo Courtesy of Christina Nelson)

By Caitlin Yilek, Staff Writer -- yilek12@up.edu

A longtime Bon Appétit employee, Gwen Johnson, and her husband are still in the hospital after their car crashed into a tree near the University of Portland's main entrance early March 20.

According to Johnson, who has worked in The Bauccio Commons for 11 years, her husband Phil was driving her to work around 6:30 a.m. when he fell unconscious behind the wheel.

"My husband had a stroke," Johnson said. "It got out of control. We hit a tree."

The Johnson's station wagon ended up at a 45-degree angle after it hit a tree next to the bus stop outside Shipstad Hall.

"There were branches laying all over the street, and it looked like the car hit the tree head on," senior Christina Nelson said.

Nelson was driving back to campus from the airport on Sunday morning when she saw the aftermath of the collision.

According to the Portland Police Bureau, two calls were placed to 911.

Paul Hesser, a UP alumnus who lives across the street from the University, said the collision woke him up.

"I heard a loud thud," Hesser said. "When I heard the noise, I knew a car had been hit. "

Hesser said he jumped out of bed, put on his shoes, grabbed his phone and keys and ran out the door.

"I called 911 as I was walking to the car," Hesser said. "When I got to the driver's side of the car, I asked if they were OK."

According to Hesser, Johnson said no, and her husband was unresponsive.

Both Johnson and her husband are being treated at Legacy Emmanuel Hospital. Johnson said she is bruised, and her injuries include fractured ribs and vertebrae in her neck. Johnson is expected to be discharged from the hospital today.

According to Johnson, her husband is in the Intensive Care Unit and is still unconscious.

Tamee Flanagan, a marketing manager for Bon Appétit, said Johnson will be taken care of.

"A bunch of us (at Bon Appétit) are her friends," Flanagan said. "We will take care of her pets, groceries and rides."

Flanagan visited Johnson at the hospital after the accident.

"We are so glad that no one was hurt," Johnson said. "We are so sorry about that tree."

(Photo Courtesy of Paul Hesser)