Tuesday, January 8, 2002
What began as a "Good Samaritan" deed on New Year's Eve turned into a traffic fatality that claimed two lives.
After helping the victim in a roll-over accident shortly before 10 p.m. on Dec. 31 near Cascade Locks, Kevin R. Fitzsimmons, 28, of Kent, Wash., was struck and killed by another vehicle which slid on an icy patch of Interstate 84 just east of Exit 44. The man he had been helping, Hector Manuel Virgen Orozco, 32, of Hood River, was also hit by the same truck and pronounced dead at the scene by emergency responders.
According to Oregon State Police (OSP) reports, the two men were mortally wounded when a Toyota pickup driven by Agusten Reyez-Chavez, 26, of Aberdeen, Wash., also ran over the slippery patch and veered onto the roadway shoulder where they were standing. Chavez's vehicle hit the two men and then struck the wrecked Nissan pickup that had been driven by Orozco before rolling over.
Chavez was taken to the Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital for treatment of a broken leg and later transported to the Oregon Health and Sciences University in Portland. One of the two passengers in his truck, Gabriel Fuentes, 22, was treated for head lacerations but the second rider, Rigerberto Reyez, 19, was not injured.
Desiree Durand, Fitzsimmon's fiancee from Yakima, Wash., said she narrowly escaped being struck by the truck because she had left the two men to move the couple's sedan so that its emergency flashers would be more visible to warn other motorists away from the accident scene.
The OSP report said Fitzsimmons and Durand had arrived within minutes after Orozco lost control of his truck on the frozen freeway overpass about 9:27 p.m. When he veered onto the right shoulder, Orozco's vehicle reportedly hit a side slope and rolled once, coming to a rest on its wheels. He had not been injured in the rollover.
According to the OSP accident report, Chavez consented to having blood and urine samples taken, but at this point there is no reason to believe alcohol was a factor in the accident.