By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
A 20-year-old Keizer man died of injuries sustained in a vehicle-on-pedestrian collision in the early morning hours of Friday, July 1.
Walter Westgarth, 65, of Keizer was driving a 2005 Volkswagen Passat four-door wagon northbound on River Road North in the curb lane through the intersection of Chemawa Road Northeast with a green traffic signal when Anthony Jon Ernest stepped off the sidewalk into the roadway where he was struck by the Passat.
It is not known whether Ernest saw the vehicle or if he was distracted.
Westgarth stopped his vehicle immediately on River Road and cooperated with the investigation.
Ernest sustained life-threatening injuries and was transported to Salem Health where he later died.
The driver showed no signs of impairment and no citations or criminal charges have been filed.
Ernest’s mother, Jill Pallin, posted on Facebook Saturday, July 2, informing friends and relatives that brain trauma suffered in the incident was “irreversible.”
On Monday, Ernest underwent organ donation surgery. His heart, liver and both kidneys were already slated for delivery to other patients at the time. Pallin encouraged friends to celebrate her son’s journey into new lives as they set off fireworks on July 4.
A Facebook memorial page, included outpourings from friends and family.
“I’m so glad we became close friends. I still can’t believe you’re gone. I will never meet anyone else like you and I’m so grateful for the times we spent together,” wrote Shania Sierra.
“Throughout the day I keep catching myself thinking about you and I just keep saying, ‘I cannot believe Anthony’s gone’ and ‘this isnt real,’ I don’t think this will ever actually hit me that you’re gone, Anthony. I don’t want to believe it and I don’t want to accept it. I love you,” wrote Andrea Rodriguez.
The crash occurred about 2:41 a.m. Officers from the Keizer Police Department were already investigating an alarm at a business located in the 5000 block of River Road North when they witnessed a motor vehicle strike a pedestrian.
Officers who were nearby when the incident occurred rendered aid to Ernest and was transported by Keizer Fire District paramedics to Salem Health.
A Celebration of Life was held at Dayspring Fellowship Wednesday, July 6, past press time.
Anyone who witnessed the incident is asked to contact KPD Sgt. David LeDay at 503-390-3713, Ext. 3482.