EUGENE, Ore. » A 39-year-old female driver apparently set herself on fire, crashed her car on a bridge and jumped 40 feet to a park below, Eugene police said Thursday.
The Eugene woman was being treated for critical injuries at a Portland-area hospital.
The woman’s family had recently reported her missing, police spokesman John Hankemeier said.
A 911 caller reported Thursday afternoon that a car appeared to be on fire from the inside, with the woman at the wheel driving recklessly, The Register-Guard newspaper reported.
After the car crashed into a bridge guardrail, witnesses told police the woman jumped out — on fire — and began taking her clothes off as she ran to the edge of the span.
Truck drivers tried to put out the flames with fire extinguishers and another person tried to grab the woman, but she was still able to jump, police said.
"I am thankful for the witness who helped us piece together what happened and was trying to keep this woman from jumping off a bridge," traffic Lt. Doug Mozan said. "Her efforts were nothing less than heroic."
When the car crashed, a piece of its bumper sailed over the bridge, injuring a 40-year-old woman below. The pedestrian was treated for minor injuries, police said.
The car was still engulfed in flames when police arrived, Mozan said.
The accident damaged the bridge and traffic was backed up for almost two hours.
The fire and crash remain under investigation.
"I believe it was intentionally set on fire but at this point we’re still investigating," Mozan told KVAL-TV. "I think according to witnesses she was spreading some sort of propellant but it’s hard to say what exactly that was."