A Hermiston man died late Friday night from injuries sustained in a fight that took place north of Hermiston on Jan. 20.
David Wayne Newton, 53, died at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane at 10:50 p.m. Friday night after being taken off life support the night before.
According to the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office, witnesses reported that Newton sustained a head injury during a physical altercation with Lloyd Allan Terpening, 54, from Irrigon, at a commercial property on 81252 Hwy 395 Wednesday night. Both men were reportedly living on the property while helping clean it out.
Undersheriff Jim Littlefield said Monday that Terpening had been questioned and was scheduled to take a polygraph test but had not been arrested and no charges had been filed.
“After the entire investigation is complete we will turn it over to the district attorney’s office,” he said, noting that investigating such cases takes time and is “not always cut and dried.”
Hilda White, Newton’s mother, said Terpening, who goes by Allan, was a close friend of Newton’s. When her son was out of cellphone minutes she used to call Terpening because she knew they were probably together.
“This may sound strange to you, but I’m not angry with Allan because he has a long road to go,” she said.
White said the fact that he would have to live with the guilt of whatever happened that night, and the loss of his best friend, seemed enough punishment to her and she didn’t think her son would want his friend to go to prison.
Newton was one of those people who “never knew a stranger,” she said. She said he took great pride in his skill as a mechanic, and there were people in town who wouldn’t let anyone but him touch their motorcycle.
“He was good at what he did, and he was proud of that,” she said.
Newton was born in southern California and spent time there as a child before moving to Hermiston in time to play football for Hermiston High School. After graduation he joined the Navy and spent a few years stationed in Norfolk, Virgina.
“He was a good-looking guy in that uniform,” White remembered.
He had four children, who White said adored him. She said he had been separated from his wife Terina Newton for the last four years but they were still on amicable terms with each other and had never filed for divorce. In 2009 the couple agreed to be interviewed by the East Oregonian about their journey together in overcoming a history of drug abuse and domestic violence.
“Dave was a good guy, he really was,” White said. “He had his faults but he was a good guy.”
In 2014 Newton was in the news again after driving Daniel Dechand, then 25, to the hospital after Dechand was shot in the chest by Timothy Kelly in Newton’s vehicle. A grand jury later ruled the incident was self-defense.
White said she knew Newton did his best to try to save Dechand, but he never wanted to talk about what happened that day.
Newton was the spitting image of his late grandfather, she said, and had the same strong sense of humor.
“I miss his laugh. He had a very hearty laugh,” she said.
She said the family, especially Newton’s children, have had a difficult time in the days since Newton was rushed to the hospital by his daughter Shavon Newton, who White said was present when her father was injured. White said her son Jeff picked her up that night and they rushed to the hospital in Spokane at 4 a.m. Based on the extent of brain damage he had suffered the family made the decision to take him off of life support on Thursday evening, and he died late Friday night.
A celebration of life with military honors will be held for Newton on Wednesday, Jan. 27 at 11 a.m. at Burns Mortuary chapel in Hermiston. A gathering for family and friends will follow at 1365 S. Highway 395, Hermiston.
White said Newton did not have life insurance, and friends of the family have created a GoFundMe account at www.gofundme.com/cykzhg6s to help cover cremation expenses.
Contact Jade McDowell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-564-4536.