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Family seeks donations for son of Walla Walla woman killed by car

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WALLA WALLA, Wash. — The family of a 20-year-old Walla Walla woman killed by a car while walking early Sunday morning on Highway 11 in Milton-Freewater is seeking help with funeral expenses.

Lincoln High School graduate Alicia Bernhardt was walking just before 3:30 a.m. near milepost 31 and First Avenue when she was hit by a car that fled the scene, according to Oregon State Police spokesman Tim Fox.

Emergency crews responded, but Bernhardt died on the scene.

It’s been difficult for her family, they told the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin.

“I saw her when she was born,” Jeremy Aust, Bernhardt’s uncle, said. “She was such a sweet child. ... It’s difficult to express everything about who she was as a person.”

But Aust gave some details about her.

“She had a knack for knowing what you needed at the time (without asking),” he said.

Bernhardt also had a sense of humor.

“I call her a female Mr. Bean,” Aust said. “She was so extremely goofy. And she loved people. She made some really strong bonds.”

Two of those bonds were close friends of hers, he said, who died when she was a teenager.

“It really was difficult for her,” he said, adding she had expressed wanting to be buried next to one of them if anything happened to her. And, her wishes will be met, he said.

Aust said he was unsure about the events leading up to Bernhardt’s death, as he wasn’t there, but was told she left a party for some reason and was on her way to her son’s babysitter’s home when she was killed.

“She was just trying to get to her son,” he said. “It’s more complicated than just a young, dumb, drunk girl walking in the road. ... She was just a good kid. She wouldn’t have done that under normal circumstances. ... I think it was a horrible accident.”

He added her son was being cared for by his father.

An Alicia Bernhardt Memorial Fund has been set up for her 3-year-old son through the Herring Groseclose Funeral Home, 315 W. Alder St. People may either donate in person or via mail, a funeral home spokeswoman said.

Her funeral will be at noon on Monday at the Blue Mountain Memorial Gardens, 300 S.E. Myra Road, College Place, Washington. A celebration of life will follow in the gardens’ hospitality room.

Aust set up an online donation site to help cover the cost of her funeral. He said any extra money would establish a trust fund for her 3-year-old son. All the money would be “given directly to Bernhardt’s mother, Angie Wagner,” who was arranging the funeral, according to the site.

Bernhardt was remembered there.

“Simple words cannot describe what she meant to everyone who loved her ... She grew from a loving daughter, and sister, into a young mother. She had (her son) at a young age, but that did not stop her from doing everything in her power to care for him. She worked at Applebee’s in Walla Walla to help support her young family.

“Alicia loved to make people laugh. She was funny, goofy to be exact. Alicia was also compassionate. She was very attuned to the emotional state of other people. Her bonds with her friends was so strong, a part of her never recovered when she lost her friend Athena, in a tragic car accident in 2014.”

Police were still searching for the suspect car, “following up on tips,” Fox told the Union-Bulletin.

The vehicle likely was a 2002-03 blue Honda Accord heading north, Fox wrote. It should have damage to its passenger-side front corner and be missing the passenger-side mirror.

Those with information on the suspect car can call the OSP at 800-442-2068 and refer to Senior Trooper Dan Chichester, case #SP-20004675.

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