‘Astronomical’ coincidence leads to crash victim’s rescue

Stephen Akkerman was trapped in his crushed car for almost 7 hours.

Photo Credit: KOIN

SWEET HOME, Ore. (KOIN) — A 23-year-old man involved in a car crash on Monday was found in the wreckage nearly six hours after it happened thanks to a string of coincidences and a couple of alert drivers.

Stephen Akkerman was trapped in his crushed car for six hours before anyone discovered him.

“He really wanted out of there, which anyone would,” tow truck driver Robert Hooper said. “He is a dad, is a husband, is someone’s son and that is detrimental to an entire family and we saved the day.”

The crash happened just outside Sweet Home on Highway 20. Those involved in the rescue said they were lucky to have been in the right place at the right time.

Tow truck driver Robert Hooper went down to inspect the wreckage while he was out on another call. (KOIN)
Tow truck driver Robert Hooper went down to inspect the wreckage while he was out on another call. (KOIN)

Janey Smith said her car broke down on the side of the highway, directly above Akkerman’s car which was partially hidden 50 feet down an embankment.

Smith called a tow truck company to help her. Hooper arrived on the scene, and as he was loading Smith’s vehicle she noticed the car in the ditch.

“I figured it had to be something that wasn’t discovered yet,” she said.

Hooper said that’s when he went down to check it out.

“I looked in and could see one leg and thought, ‘Oh my God there is a body in there,’” Hooper recalled. “I saw his arm start to go up and he yelled, ‘Help’ or kind of mumbled… I kept telling him not to move and help is on the way.”

Janey Smith said she is very thankful her car broke down when it did, and that she noticed the car below her. (KOIN)
Janey Smith said she is very thankful her car broke down when it did, and that she noticed the car below her. (KOIN)

Hooper and Smith learned Akkerman’s condition was upgraded in the hospital on Tuesday. Smith says she hopes to visit him later this week.

“I just want to see him, I want to see his face,” she said. “I’m just so thankful that we were there.”

It was a timely car breakdown, which Hooper referred to as an “astronomical” string of coincidences.

“It has to be divine intervention, don’t you think?” Smith asked. “I mean, I was a believer before, but it has gone up a bit now.”

Hooper says he’s gotten an outpouring of support from the community, but his thoughts are with Akkerman and his family.

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