Local artist hospitalized after motorcycle accident

A well-known local artist is in serious condition after getting run over by a van Monday evening near Waterfront Park.

Hood River resident Kathryn Watne, 56, was riding her motorcycle on Portway Avenue when she turned into a gravel lot and was run over by a reversing van. According to Hood River Police Sergeant Stan Baker, who was the responding officer, the driver of the van, Gina LeFranc, 48, of Milwaukie, Ore., was backing out of a parking space when her vehicle “violently accelerated and stayed accelerated for approximately 50 feet before striking Watne."

The impact pushed Watne under a parked Subaru, which was then struck by LeFranc’s vehicle, which also ran into a Mercedes before finally coming to a stop. The bike was found underneath the van.

Baker reported the owner of the Subaru and other bystanders were able to help move the vehicle off Watne. After Hood River EMS arrived at the scene, they arranged for a LifeFlight transport to Legacy Emanuel. No citations were issued to the driver of the van.

As of Friday morning, Watne was in the neurotrauma intensive care unit of Legacy Emanuel and listed in serious condition. She was reported to be wearing a helmet as well as other safety gear when she was hit.

A close friend of Watne’s, Mark Nilsson, who is also a Hood River artist, said Watne was initially listed in critical condition and has had to undergo multiple surgeries to repair broken bones and internal organs, but has reportedly been responsive.

“She’s strong Nordic stock,” Nilsson said. “She’ll get through this.”

Nilsson’s optimism stems from the fact that this isn’t the first time Watne has had to battle serious health issues. Nilsson said Watne is a recent survivor of breast cancer, which he said she beat about a year ago. Many in Hood River have likely seen Watne without knowing it, as she prominently featured on a billboard for Celilo Cancer Center along 12th Street on the Heights.

“She’s quite amazing,” Nilsson said of Watne’s battle with the disease. “I never heard her complain once.”

“She’s always happy,” he added. “She has a heart of gold.”

Nilsson described Watne as a gifted enamelist and jewelry artist whose work has been featured in many local art shows, including the Gorge Artists Open Studio Tour. Originally from Seattle, Watne has lived in Hood River for almost 20 years and has made many friends both inside and outside the artist community, many of whom are helping out her and her husband, Stewart, in their time of need.

Shelley Toon Hight, another Hood River artist who’s friends with Watne, said friends created a Google calendar and have signed up for shifts to do chores around the Watne house while Kathy is in the hospital.

“A lot of friends have rallied around them to feed her kitties and water her garden — as you would expect in Hood River,” Toon Hight said.

Nilsson was happy about how many people have pitched in to help and happier still that Kathy has a devoted husband.

“He was beside her through the whole cancer treatment,” he said of Stewart, “and he’ll be beside her through this.”

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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 www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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