Nathan Salazar of Pendleton died Tuesday evening in a crash near Umatilla. He was 12.
Oregon State Police reported the stormy weather at the time could be a contributing factor.
State police, Umatilla County Fire District 1 and other agencies at about 7:15 p.m. responded to a single-vehicle crash on Interstate 82 outside Umatilla. The preliminary investigation indicated Raymond Ramone Dick Shippentower, 32, of Pendleton, was driving a silver Mazda MPV westbound on the highway. The minivan veered off the road and rolled over in the median.
Nathan was a passenger in the vehicle. He died from injuries at the scene.
The other passengers were Christina Marie Leyva, 38, of Pendleton, and a 3-year-old girl. They and the driver suffered minor or non-life threatening injuries, according to state police.
Police and road crews restricted I-82 to one lane for three-and-a-half hours during the crash investigation.
Nathan was a student at Washington Elementary School. Pendleton, where staff sent a letter to parents identifying Nathan and telling parents how their children could react to grief.
Pendleton school Superintendent Chris Fritsch called Nathan’s death a tragedy.
“Our hearts go out to the parents and the family,” Fritsch said, adding the death also weighs on teachers and staff.
Principal Aimee VanNice said the school established a safe room for students and staffed that with teachers, school district counselors and the InterMountain Service District crisis team. The room allows students to talk so someone, express their feelings or just have a quiet place to spend time. The safe room will be available as well Thursday, she said, and teachers and staff will keep a close watch to see if any students need further help, such as referrals to counseling.