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Wheelchair-bound man dies in crash


A wheelchair-bound Forest Grove man died early Monday morning after being hit by a motorist from Aloha.

John David Hacker, 55, was attempting to cross the 3900 block of Pacific Avenue — but not in a marked crosswalk, police said — just after 6 a.m. He was heading north, toward Best Western University Inn & Suites, when a sports-utility vehicle driven by 68-year-old Donald Watts struck him in the middle of the highway.

Hacker had been a resident of Forest Grove Rehabilitation and Care Center, 3900 Pacific Ave., said Mark Firmani of Vancouver-based Prestige Care, parent company of the local care facility.

The vehicle that hit Hacker was traveling westbound in the left-hand lane, said Forest Grove Police Capt. Mike Herb. Its right-front bumper was damaged in the collision, and debris was strewn across the highway. by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: DOUG BURKHARDT - A crumpled wheelchair rests on the wet pavement Monday morning as officers with the Forest Grove Police Department take measurements at a fatal accident scene near the intersection of Pacific Avenue and Mountain View Lane. A 55-year-old Forest Grove man died in the accident.

Hacker died at the scene. His broken wheelchair rode back to the Forest Grove Police station in the trunk of a patrol car around 10:30 a.m. Monday.

Police diverted traffic off Pacific Avenue onto Mountain View Lane and Quince Street for several hours Monday while police worked to reconstruct the accident.

Watts, who was not cited, remained at the scene while another motorist — who witnessed the crash while traveling eastbound on 19th Avenue — called 911.

“He is cooperating with authorities,” Herb said of Watts, who lives in Aloha.

It was still dark at the time of the accident. The victim was reported to have been wearing brown or dark-colored clothing and riding in an all-black wheelchair. He was “difficult to see,” according to the accident witness, Herb added.

“[The witness] had come to a stop” and observed Hacker “going very slowly” as he continued across the busy four-lane highway, said Herb. The witness “started flashing his lights” toward westbound traffic, he added, but the other driver — Watts — did not see the victim.

Hacker was approximately 50 to 75 yards away from the nearest crosswalk and intersection, at Mountain View Lane, when he was struck, police said.

Herb noted that an elderly man was hit and killed “in this exact spot” in 2002, and that another vehicle-pedestrian fatality occurred in 2010 “within the same three-block stretch.”

He cautioned drivers and others to use extreme caution during the dark winter months, when rain and fog can make it particularly hard to see people in roadways.

And he had specific safety advice for pedestrians, bicyclists and those in wheelchairs.

“People need to use the crosswalks,” said Herb. “And those walking or riding have got to wear reflective clothing and perhaps display a [caution] flag.

“There is a common theme here: In every case, the person [hit] was wearing dark clothing.”

Police don’t believe Watts was impaired at the time of the accident.

“It does not appear alcohol, drugs or speed were a factor,” Herb said of the crash, which remained under investigation late Monday afternoon. A report on the crash is not expected for at least another week.