Bakery manager dies weeks after SE Portland hit-run

Erin Brenneman, 26, was hit as she crossed SE 80th and Pine on June 22

Erin Brenneman sustained a serious brain injury when a hit-and-run driver struck her in SE Portland on June 22, 2017. She died July 15, 2017 (Courtesy photo)
Erin Brenneman sustained a serious brain injury when a hit-and-run driver struck her in SE Portland on June 22, 2017. She died July 15, 2017 (Courtesy photo)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Erin Brenneman had “a lot of personality,” was “an incredibly hard worker” who was “really generous” and “completely selfless,” said Jax Button, the owner of Hungry Heart Bakery.

Flowers to honor Erin Brenneman, 26, who died July 14, 2017 weeks after being injured in a hit-and-run crash in SE Portland. (KOIN)
Flowers to honor Erin Brenneman, 26, who died July 14, 2017 weeks after being injured in a hit-and-run crash in SE Portland. (KOIN)

Erin, the 26-year-old general manager of the bakery, was critically injured in a hit-and-run crash as she took a break June 22. As she used the crosswalk at SE 80th and Pine about 3:15 p.m. that day, a driver hit her and didn’t stop.

She was rushed to the hospital with multiple injuries, including a brain injury. Her injuries were insurmountable and she died early on July 15, Button said.

Erin Brenneman was hit by what investigators believe to be a dark-colored, mid-1990s full-size 4-wheel drive pickup truck. Investigators said the pickup truck likely has minor damage to the center of the grill or front bumper. However, no suspect information has been developed, officials said.

In a statement posted on a GoFundMe page, her brother Jesse wrote:

“..Obviously this is not the outcome any of us wanted, but rest assured that she was at peace, in no pain, and surrounded by friends and loved ones. The medical care she received was truly top notch and we have no doubt that she received every shot and opportunity possible. This is heartbreaking for us all, but she is well, and we will be too…”

‘She kind of really made us a great place to be’

Jax Button said Erin “was absolutely my right hand.” She worked as their general manager for almost 2 years and “was a huge part of how we’re able to be where we are now and how we’re able to be so successful. She kind of really made us a great place to be.”

Sharon Ermlich, who works at the nearby Townshend’s Tea House, got her pastries from Hungry Heart and saw Erin a few times a week for more than a year.

“She’s super sweet. She works really hard and she’s just been a person that’s been in my life,” Ermlich told KOIN 6 News. “It’s weird to just have somebody missing from your life, you know?”

“It’s going to have a huge impact on the person whether or not they come forward. It’s going to haunt them for the rest of their life.” – Jax Button, owner of Hungry Heart Bakery

Button said, “Erin was an incredible personality. She was one of those people that was hilarious, really sarcastic but in the most well-meaning way.”

On her off days, Button said Erin volunteered at a women’s treatment center for people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.”

“That’s what she did with her days off,” Button said. “So it’s just a really tough thing that the world is losing someone like her.”

Everyone at the bakery has “just been feeling a little bit lost. She was definitely the heart of our bakery. More often than not I didn’t know what to do about something and Erin almost always knew what to do. So I think we’re just all kind of struggling to keep things going without her.”

Erin Brenneman, who died July 15, 2017, is seen in an undated photo from a GoFundMe page
Erin Brenneman, who died July 15, 2017, is seen in an undated photo from a GoFundMe page

Erin, a native of Montana, often took a walk on her breaks.

“Just a loop around the neighborhood on a nice day and get a chance to get out of the bakery and get some air,” Button said.

That’s what she was doing that day, crossing the intersection at SE 80th and Pine, about a block away from the bakery.

Jax said Erin was not a vengeful person and wouldn’t want anyone to be continually angry. But, she said, “what we’re really struggling for is clarity.”

She also hopes that whoever the driver is that hit and killed Erin Brenneman steps forward.

“I don’t think it’s about trying to find somebody so they can be punished to the full extent of the law. I think it’s a matter of something like this ruins lives. This has impacted so many lives, obviously Erin’s life in the biggest way, but all the people that care about her, all the people that depend on her, all the people that love her,” she told KOIN 6 News. “It’s going to have a huge impact on the person whether or not they come forward. It’s going to haunt them for the rest of their life.”

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the police non-emergency line at 503.823.3333.