Authorities have identified the man who suffered severe burns near the Highway 34 bypass on Nov. 2 as 21-year-old Oregon State University student Taher Almahal.
Almahal was airlifted to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland on Nov. 2 after a witness reported seeing him on fire in a field east of the Highway 34 bypass. Corvallis police said they believe Almahal remains in serious condition at Legacy Emanuel. Investigators have ruled the incident to be an “intentional act.”
Lt. Dan Duncan of the Corvallis Police Department confirmed that investigators believe Almahal was attempting suicide.
“Thank God we don’t see this every day,” Duncan said. “Obviously for family and friends, it’s super-traumatic. It’s so shocking to see.”
According to police, a person driving along the Highway 34 bypass reported seeing Almahal on fire in a field roughly 100 yards west of the road before noon on Nov. 2. Corvallis Fire Department officials have said the fire on the man was extinguished before the first unit arrived, but a gasoline tank nearby was on fire and quickly extinguished. The field surrounding the man did not catch fire.
Duncan said investigators following up have been told that Almahal remains in serious condition at Legacy Emanuel in Portland.
“Given the severity of the burns, it’s probably going to take a while before we know that he’s going to make it to some level of recovery,” Duncan said.
Piseth Pich, Legacy Emanuel spokesperson, said Thursday that Almahal’s name was not on the hospital’s patient roster. Pich added that there could be several possibilities as to why someone’s name would not appear on the roster.
“If a patient opts out of any information, they won’t show up on our census,” he said. “If a patient is no longer there, they wouldn’t show up in the system. Or if they choose to retain their confidentiality rights, they wouldn’t show up.”
Almahal is listed in OSU's online directory as a student studying academic English.