Freeway accident claims two lives near CL

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.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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