SALEM, ORE. - SALEM, Ore. -- Police have ruled a Salem woman's death on Interstate 5 early Sunday morning a suicide.
Sofia Diaz-Piceno, 19, of Salem, was struck by at least two vehicles while crossing the freeway from the east side to the west side just north of the Market Street exit around 5 a.m.
Salem Police officers were initially dispatched prior to the incident on a report of Diaz-Piceno causing a disturbance at Aiberto's Mexican Food at 3855 Market St NE. Officers couldn't locate her at the time, but soon after responded to the northbound lanes of I-5 following reports of a pedestrian getting hit.
After four days of interviewing friends, family and other people Diaz-Piceno was with leading up to the young mother's death, investigators concluded she stepped onto the freeway with the intent to end her life.
Oregon State Police Lt. Mark Duncan said investigators reviewed overwhelming numbers of statements corroborating that Diaz-Piceno shared feelings of depression with family and friends.
"She had been reaching out to people on her phone and making comments she would do something," Duncan said.
One of Diaz-Piceno's brothers, Sergio Piceno, said her sister had been struggling with depression for roughy two years. Her family pleaded she enter counseling, but she wasn't comfortable sharing her life with strangers.
"There are so many resources and mentors that are willing to hear people out so these things don't happen," Piceno said. "If someone actually listened to her or tried to calm her down (at Aibertos Mexican Food), I don't think she would have made that choice."
Yovanny Rodriguez, 22, the father of Diaz-Piceno's 2-year-old boy Lorenzo, said he's now forced to navigate being a single father after losing a caring, nurturing coparent.
"The last time I talked to her was last Sunday when I dropped him off. We were just planning for the holidays and for our son's third birthday in December," Rodriguez said. "We had so much to experience together."
Rodriguez joined dozens of family and friends at Riverfront Park for a candlelight vigil honoring Diaz-Piceno Monday night.They huddled around a poster decorated with photos of her, illuminated with Christmas lights framed in the shape of a heart.
Lorenzo, bundled in a jacket, listened in silence as loved ones chatted among themselves and listened to audio of his mom singing.
"I'm sure he's not going to understand at all, but he knows his mother loved him so much," Rodriguez said. "Our families will never be the same."
How to get help
To reach a suicide prevention hotline in your area visit www.suicide.org.
For information on the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention visit www.afsp.org.
Email Lauren Hernandez at email@example.com, call 503-399-6743 or follow on Twitter @LaurenPorFavor
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