Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites


Community pays tribute to teen who died in highway wreck

by: COURTNEY VAUGHN - Kierra Skinner, Alyssa Richardson and Kelsey Reid gather with candles at St. Helens High School to remember Seeaira Hicks. More than 150 people showed up to a candlelight vigil held Tuesday evening for the late teen.
Family and friends gathered at St. Helens High School on the evening of Tuesday, July 8, to remember 16-year-old Seeaira Daun Hicks, who was killed Sunday morning in a crash on Highway 30.

Hicks was a student at St. Helens High School.

The teen was driving a 1993 Saturn eastbound on the highway between Clatskanie and Rainier just before 1 a.m. Sunday when it veered off the road, rolling several times, according to Oregon State Police.

Hicks’ passenger and boyfriend, 16-year-old Scott Hamlin, was hospitalized at PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center in Longview, Washington, with injuries.

More than 150 people, including Hamlin, attended a candlelight vigil for Hicks on the steps of the high school Tuesday.

Friends and family shared tearful stories and memories of the teen and described her as spunky, outspoken, honest and friendly.

“She was who she was,” Amber Ellerbruch, one of Hicks’ former teachers at St. Helens High School, said. “It didn’t matter what people wanted her to be. ... I admired her for that.”

Richard Hicks, Seeaira’s father, said Hicks fell asleep while driving after a long day at the beach with friends. He said his daughter was supposed to stay the night in Seaside.

“Someone had just called in to report a driver going 45 mph on the highway and the [officer] was about eight minutes out from responding to that call,” he said.

He characterized his daughter as someone who was eager to help others and volunteered her time at community events.

“Seeaira was always such a giving person to all of her little cousins and to anybody she could help,” Richard Hicks said Wednesday.

by: COURTNEY VAUGHN - Kylea Maughan and Stephanie Kundzmann sign posters for Seeaira Hicks during a candlelight vigil at St. Helens High School Tuesday, July 8. Maughan and Kundzmann went to school with Hicks.Hicks was slated to start her junior year at SHHS this year. She recently started working at the Safeway grocery store in St. Helens about a month ago, coworkers said. Her mother also works there.

“She was a vivacious, fun-loving, inspirational human being,” Laurie Snyder, a neighbor and longtime family friend, said. Snyder said she knew Hicks since she was a baby and last spoke to her on July 4.

During the vigil, family and close friends sat on the steps of the high school wearing matching scarves, facing a crowd gathered with candles.

The scarves were made by a family friend from the same material she was using to make a bed for Hicks’ dog the night of the accident. After several acquaintances spoke about the teen, attendees held hands and prayed together.

“Seeaira would be amazed at all the people who showed up. She would’ve loved it,” Richard Hicks told the crowd before him Tuesday.

Hicks was one of two traffic fatalities in Columbia County over the Independence Day weekend.

The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office said Daniel Raymond Hughes, a 26-year-old Westport resident, died in a crash on Quincy Mayger Road, in the Clatskanie area, early Saturday morning.

According to investigators, Hughes and his girlfriend, who was injured in the crash, were returning from an Independence Day party, and Hughes was driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuana. He was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from his car when it crashed, according to the Sheriff’s Office.