GRESHAM, Ore. (KOIN) — A sixth-grader was hit and killed by a driver while walking through the crosswalk just down the street from Dexter McCarty Middle School in Gresham Monday morning, the first day back from winter break.
The driver, 26-year-old Garrett Bergquist of Gresham, was later arrested. Investigators said there “was indication of impairment” and that he ran a red light. Bergquist stayed at the scene and cooperated, officials said.
The 11-year-old student had a green light and was crossing appropriately just after 8:30 a.m., Gresham police said. More than a dozen police units rushed to the scene at Southeast Hogan Road and 5th Street.
“According to witnesses, we do believe the student was inside the crosswalk and was doing everything he was supposed to be doing,” said Sgt. Thomas Walker. “The light was in his favor, but we’re still gathering information.”
Bergquist now faces both felony and misdemeanor charges, including manslaughter, DUII and reckless driving.
The family of the victim has been notified but officials have not released his name.
John George, the principal at Dexter McCarty Middle School, sent an alert to parents after the crash.
“Our condolences and thoughts go out to the family and friends of our student,” George wrote, in part. “Additional counselors will be on hand both this afternoon and tomorrow to support students and staff.”
Read the whole letter from Principal George at the bottom of this article.
Neighbors and police both told KOIN 6 News the area is very busy with a lot of traffic.
“[There are] a lot of kids on bikes, we do have a school nearby, that’s a concern,” said neighbor Mark Pearson. “There seems to be a lot of people on Hogan that are going Hogan at a pretty good clip — makes [the] intersection a dangerous situation.”
Sgt. Walker said this stretch of road is both residential and business. “People really need to be mindful when they’re out here and be paying attention to bicyclists, pedestrians. The other thing for the bicyclists and pedestrians is that, even if a light is in your favor, take an extra second or two to look around and be aware of your surroundings.”
Southeast Hogan was closed between Powell and 6th Street through the morning while the crash team investigated. The roadway reopened just before 2 p.m., but police remain at the scene. Commuters should avoid the area while the Vehicular Crime Team continues their investigation.
Just two weeks ago, another boy was hit and killed while riding his bike along SE Hogan Road. A memorial for him sits a block away from where the latest student was struck. Neighbors said they would like to see more lights, sidewalks and flashing crosswalks in the area.
Dear Dexter McCarty Middle School Families,
It is with profound sadness that I write this communication to let you know that one of our students was involved in a tragic traffic accident and unexpectedly passed away this morning. The Gresham Police have notified the parents of the student. Our condolences and thoughts go out to the family and friends of our student. Additional counselors will be on hand both this afternoon and tomorrow to support students and staff.
As soon as we received the news we implemented our school’s Emergency Response Plan so that we could do our best to provide an appropriate response for our staff and students. We know that students and staff react in different ways to tragedies of this nature, so we are going to be flexible in our response.
A student death is a difficult and challenging situation that can generate a high level of anxiety and distress in some students. Children may have limited or no experience in coping with a loss like this and might be confused as to how to handle grief. If you feel that your child is having difficulty, we encourage you to discuss their thoughts and feelings to help them work through their grief or concerns. Please also consider monitoring and discussing your child’s communications (social media, phone, email, text messaging) to further assess their potential needs.
Please observe your child closely over the next several days and weeks to watch for signs of distress, which may indicate a need for additional support and guidance. Please feel free to call if you have any concerns or questions regarding your child, or the steps being taken by the school to address this loss and tragedy. Counselors and support staff may be reached at 503-665-0148. Additional resources can be found at this link