'He was very nice and sweet': 13-year-old struck and killed in Cottage Grove accident
COTTAGE GROVE, Ore. - Tragedy struck in a dark, rural highway near Cottage Grove on Wednesday night, when a 13-year-old boy on a bicycle was struck and killed by a pickup along Highway 99.
The crash happened around 6 p.m. at milepost 10.5, three miles north of Cottage Grove. Police say the 13-year-old boy was riding a bicycle on Hwy 99S when he was struck by a southbound 2002 GMC 2500 pickup, driven by 85-year-old Richar L. Perini, of Creswell.
The teen suffered fatal injuries and was declared deceased at the scene by medical personnel.
Police officials have yet to release the full name of the teenager who died, but we're finding out a little bit on Wednesday about what he was like.
Carlee Harmon, a classmate and close friend of the boy she identified as "Wesley," visited Hwy 99 and Lynx Hollow Road on Thursday bearing flowers and balloons, as well as a black and white photograph to remember the boy.
"He was like, one of the most smiley kids in our class," said Harmon, who is in 8th grade. "He would always joke around, and he was very nice and sweet."
Harmon says she and "Wesley" had recently finished a science project at Lincoln Middle School in Cottage Grove. Harmon says that the boy was one of her very close friends.
The stretch of road where the accident occurred is poorly light, especially in the winter. According to police, it appears that the teenager was also wearing very dark clothing at the time of the accident, making him very hard to see.
"The bicycle operator was not wearing a safety helmet, no indication of lights being on the bicycle to illuminate it," said Lt. Vonn Schleicher of the Oregon State Police. "There's no indication that the operator noticed the bicyclist until the cyclist was attempting to cross the road."
Business owner Greg Helgen says he looked out his front window and saw a young teenager with dark clothing riding his bike just north of the accident, two hours before it happened.
There's no way to confirm whether it was the same boy or not, but Lt. Schleicher says it's another reminder of the importance of bicycle and driving safety in the dark.
"The family does not want to lose the life of a 13-year-old boy; the community does not want to lose the life of a 13-year-old boy," said Lt. Schleicher.
Another classmate of the boy at Lincoln Middle School, Emily Jones, also identified the boy as "Wesley." She said that he was always kind to all, and was never rude to anyone.