BEAVERTON, Ore. — Multiple families and at least two communities are navigating the wake of a crash in Beaverton early Wednesday morning that claimed the lives of two Southridge High School students while seriously injuring three other students and a Washington County deputy.
The crash happened around 12:24 a.m. at the intersection of Southwest Tualatin Valley Highway and Southwest Murray Boulevard. According to Beaverton police, the driver of a Nissan Altima ran a red light and hit the deputy's patrol car. Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue responded to the crash and provided medical aid.
Five Southridge students were inside the Altima, the Beaverton School District (BSD) said. Two of those students died at the scene. Police have identified them as 17-year-old Matthew Amaya and 16-year-old Juan Pacheco Aguilera.
Abel Navarro is the cousin of Amaya. Navarro heard the tragic news from his uncle Wednesday morning.
"It just brought my world down," said Abel Navarro. "I was like, 'No, my cousin.' He was everything I had. He wasn't a cousin, he was more like a brother. He was just a gentle giant. He was just amazing."
A relative of Juan Pacheco Aguilera told KGW that she would forever miss his cousin.
"He was just a really kind person. He was motivated to do better, he was trying to graduate early," she said. "He just always made sure everyone was okay, he put everyone before himself."
At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Washington County Sheriff Pat Garrett identified the injured deputy as Michael Trotter, and described his condition as critical but stable, entailing a "long road to recovery." Trotter has been with the Washington County Sheriff's Office since 2013 and has been a full-time patrol deputy since 2015, he said.
"Last night is a stark reminder of how dangerous police work can be," he said. "It's not only the bravery of my team that amazes me, it's also the unwavering support for each other as they raise their hand everyday to accept a certain amount of risk to serve our community in an incredibly important way."
The deputy's wife, Heather Trotter spoke with KGW on Thursday outside of the hospital where her husband is receiving treatment. She recounted the moment that her husband's colleagues from the sheriff's office knocked on her door after the crash that morning.
"And I was like 'Oh my god, is he alive?' [They said] 'Yeah, no, yes — but we don't know his condition,'" Heather Trotter said. "And I was like 'Oh my god, thank you ... okay, breathe.' Then I made it up the stairs, tried to receive the information that I was given, and we left the house promptly and came here."
The three students taken to the hospital were in critical condition, according to Beaverton police. They have not been identified.
The school district sent a statement to parents and students, saying in part, "We are devastated to learn of these deaths. Our hearts go out to their families and friends, and our thoughts are with those who are currently hospitalized. We also want to extend our condolences and support to the Southridge community."
The BSD said extra counselors will be available at Southridge High to support those in need.
Southridge students who spoke to KGW said the students who died were well-known among both their fellow students and teachers.
"It's obviously a sad thing, it's going to be on everyone's minds, lots of students knew him," said Michael Tibebu. "I don't think the rest of the school year is going to be normal."
Two students from Sunset High School visited Southridge early Wednesday afternoon to drop off a card and donuts as a show of support.
"We just wanted to reach out and let them know they're in our thoughts and we're wishing them all well," said Ellie Juliano, Jr.
"We want to show our support in the community... it could've been anyone anywhere around here," said Peyton Kennedy. "We drive that same road every day."
Since the day of the crash, a memorial has been growing on the side of the road near the intersection where it happened — adorned with flowers, candles and signs left to honor Aguilera and Amaya.
In the aftermath of the crash, at least two GoFundMe pages have been established for the victims. Aguilera's sister posted one in hopes that the community can support them with funeral expenses, and it's raised more than $12,000 of a $10,000 goal. Another page supporting Trotter's recovery has raised more than $45,000 of an extended $100,000 goal.
The Washington County Crash Analysis and Reconstruction Team (CART) is investigating the crash. Anyone with information is asked to call (503) 629-0111.