Passersby on Hwy 224 try to save 8-year-old boy

5 people were injured, including an 11-year-old boy

Amber Starling, left, and Ashleigh Bridges tried to save an 8-year-old boy in a crash on Hwy 224, July 19, 2016 (KOIN)
Amber Starling, left, and Ashleigh Bridges tried to save an 8-year-old boy in a crash on Hwy 224, July 19, 2016 (KOIN)

ESTACADA, Ore. (KOIN) — Best friends Amber Starling and Ashleigh Bridges can’t eat and can’t sleep since they came upon a horrific head-on collision that killed an 8-year-old boy and injured 5 others, including an 11-year-old.

The crash happened around 8:45 p.m. Saturday near the Memaloose Bridge, just east of Estacada. Police said the driver of a white Chrysler veered off the road, overcorrected and slammed into an oncoming black Dodge.

Starling, 28, and Bridges, 29, were headed to the hot springs. “We had come around a corner out a little past Estacada where there’s no phone service,” Starling told KOIN 6 News.

An 8-year-old boy died and 5 others hurt in this head-on crash on Hwy 224 near Estacada, July 16, 2016 (OSP)
An 8-year-old boy died and 5 others hurt in this head-on crash on Hwy 224 near Estacada, July 16, 2016 (OSP)

They saw the mangled wreckage of the cars and saw people “crawling out the car as we had approached,” she said. “There was another gentleman who had seen the accident, and he was there as well.”

She and Bridges went up to the Dodge to “help them get out because we thought the car was on fire.”

Bridges grabbed the 8-year-old. Starling moved the 11-year-old and leaned him up against a guard rail.

The younger child was complaining of his stomach hurting, Starling said. Bridges felt his pulse go weak.

“She felt like she was about to pass out, and then I took over,” Starling said. “I was holding him, and then he struggled for his last breath, probably just within minutes.”

A memorial is placed along Hwy 224 near Estacada where an 8-year-old boy died in a crash, July 19, 2016 (KOIN)
A memorial is placed along Hwy 224 near Estacada where an 8-year-old boy died in a crash, July 19, 2016 (KOIN)

She said she began yelling and another man and woman approached. They performed CPR until the first Oregon State Police trooper arrived.

“There was no cell service,” Starling said. “I was running and flagging people down and telling them we need help, we have people that are injured.”

Drivers began speeding back to where they could get cell service to call for help.

Starling wants to see call boxes in the area so “when there’s no cell service that you don’t have to drive miles to get through to 911.”

Both women are grateful to the first responders and other drivers who stopped to help.

“The community just really came together as a family,” she said. “I don’t think anyone really knew what they were doing or prepared for the incident that we approached. But there was one mission: we wanted to help this family.”

Though no charges have yet been filed, the Oregon State Police said the driver of the Chrysler is being investigated for possible drunk driving.

A memorial is placed along Hwy 224 near Estacada where an 8-year-old boy died in a crash, July 19, 2016 (KOIN)
A memorial is placed along Hwy 224 near Estacada where an 8-year-old boy died in a crash, July 19, 2016 (KOIN)

The 3 adults in the Dodge — Keith Pierce, Alex Dahl and Mandy Dalton — remain hospitalized but are improving. The 11-year-old remains in serious condition.

The crash also changed the lives of Ashleigh Bridges and Amber Starling.

“I haven’t been able to eat, sleep. I called out of work yesterday,” Bridges said. “I’m like out of my mind right now. All I want to do is be with that family and think about that family.”

“You’re defintiely not thinking about your own problems or worries. You think you have life bad until something like this happens,” Starling said. She added, “Haven’t felt right since the accident. Probably never will be.”

“Don’t drink and drive and get behind the wheel,” she said. “You’re not only going to affect your life but others that are involved with it.”

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