Car strikes, kills 22-year-old Safeway employee
Forest Grove Safeway employees are mourning the sudden death of one of their employees, 22-year-old Jonathan Dominguez Esquivel of Forest Grove, who was killed when a car struck him as he walked along Pacific Avenue Saturday night.
"Johnny D was just an amazing young man," said Safeway bookkeeper Teresa Breidenbach. "He never complained about anything, ever. He did anything and everything he was asked to do. He just had a great spirit about him."
According to Capt. Mike Herb of the Forest Grove Police Department, police and medical crews responded to reports of a car hitting a pedestrian at 10:39 p.m. March 18 near Oak Street and Pacific Avenue on the south side of the road.
They found Dominguez in a ditch with critical injuries and with witnesses to the crash trying to render aid, Herb said.
Paramedics called for him to be transported to Legacy Emanuel Hospital by Life Flight. Despite extensive life-saving efforts by Forest Grove Fire & Rescue, Metro West Ambulance and Life Flight, Dominguez was pronounced deceased upon arrival at the hospital.
According to Herb, Dominguez had been walking from his home near Fir Road and 17th Court, where he lived with a couple roommates, to his night shift job at Safeway. He was westbound in the shoulder (there is no sidewalk at that point) on the south side of the road when he was struck by an eastbound car.
Witnesses told police about a white car that continued on down the street after hitting Dominguez Esquivel and police located the suspected car and driver about 100 yards east of the crash location, Herb said.
Beaverton resident Bethany Lumber, 27, had pulled over to the shoulder just west of Pacific's intersection with Highway 47, Herb said. A damaged mailbox was also located in the area.
Lumber was arrested by officers who reported observing indications of intoxication. Lumber is being held at the Washington County Jail on charges of Manslaughter in the Second Degree, Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants and Criminal Mischief in the Second Degree.
According to FGPD, Lumber was outside her car leaning against it when officers approached her. She told them she knew she had hit something but didn't realize it was a person, Herb said.
Pacific Avenue was closed roughly from Oak Street to Highway 47 and reopened at around 2 a.m., Herb said.
Herb said that at some point after 11 p.m., Safeway employees realized Dominguez hadn't shown up for work and also knew something had gone wrong outside because of the sirens and the closed lanes, so went to see what had happened and learned about the crash.
"Our night shift guys were really devastated," Breidenbach said. Dominguez had only been there a year and a half, she said, mostly working the night shift from 11 p.m. to 8:30 a.m., but sometimes starting at midnight and sometimes at 5 a.m. if he was working the dairy department.
"He helped out his family and stuff too," said Breidenbach, who thinks the store will do something to honor Dominguez. "We're still trying to get it together."
Several people who didn't appear to know Dominguez but were tangentially connected to the accident commented on his Facebook page.
"Sorry your life ended the way it did ... I didn't even know you and I'm broken up and can't get that image out of my head. RIP guy," wrote one.
"It was outside my house ive been praying for the family we r all so sorry this happened," wrote another.
"so sad ... prayers to your family!!! I've seen you a few times at Safeway and you were alwyas (sic) very nice," wrote another.
Dominguez himself left a clue to his personality in his Facebook intro: "Just getting by with what I learned from my dad and others. Even if I hurt I will only show a smile."
By Monday, a small shrine of signs and flowers was growing up at the location of the crash. Dominguez was not a Forest Grove native but had gone to high school in California, said Herb, who thinks he might have moved to Forest Grove to be closer to his aunt and cousins, who live in the Portland area. The cousins and aunt went to the hospital with a pastor after learning of the crash, Herb said.
Dominguez' mother and other family members live in Mexico, said Herb, who spoke with a family friend Sunday and learned the mother had been contacted about the crash but didn't yet know her son had died.
Dominguez' nearest sibling was a sister in California, who drove up to Oregon Sunday morning.
Herb said the grieving family members were very upset to learn that Lumber was able to post bail and leave the jail.
The Forest Grove Police Department is being assisted in the investigation by the Washington County Sheriff's Office and the Washington County multi-agency crash analysis reconstruction team (CART).