8/19/2014

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Man's highway death raises questions about police response times

Man's highway death raises questions about police response times

Near SHERIDAN, Ore. – The family of a 21-year-old man killed by a car over the weekend is seeking answers after learning that it took 15 minutes for police to respond to the first 911 call.

Devin Cavan had been out partying with friends and was just five minutes from home early Sunday morning when suddenly he asked a friend to stop the car because he felt sick.

His mother said he then exited the car without his shoes on and ran off. He ended up along Highway 18 near Sheridan, Ore., and was acting erratically and jumping into traffic.

The first 911 call from a witness came in at 2:01 a.m., which went to the Oregon State Police since troopers patrol state highways. But no troopers were on duty in that area because of budget cuts.

Six minutes later, a Yamhill County Sheriff’s deputy was dispatched from Grand Ronde seven miles away to the scene. While the deputy was on the way, more 911 calls came in, with witnesses describing a man throwing rocks at cars and jumping on the hood of one car.

Seven minutes passed and then another 911 call came in. This time, the caller reported that a man was possibly hit by a car.

Two minutes later, a Yamhill County sheriff’s deputy arrived. But it was too late.

Once the deputy arrived, he found that Cavan was still on the hood of the car and the deputy had to carefully take him off the hood to administer CPR. Cavan had a slight pulse, but died soon after, deputies said.

Linda J Coyle, 58, of McMinnville was the driver who struck Devin Cavan. 

We spoke with her by phone and she said she was "not good" and said “I feel really said about the whole incident.”

She declined to speak on camera and referred me to the reports taken by Trooper Dan Davis.

Hastings said there was nothing Coyle could do to get out of the way and that she was not facing any charges.

We took the family’s questions about police response times to the OSP and the Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office.

OSP Lt. Gregg Hastings said there’s nothing that could have been done differently to save Cavan’s life.

“It would have been impossible for us,” Hastings said. “Even if we would have called someone and called them out of their residence for them to get out of their bed, get ready, get in their car, (it) would have been longer than it took for the deputy to be able to get there who is already on duty.”

A Yamhill County sheriff’s captain said that while the deputy left immediately after receiving the call, there were some conflicting reports about Cavan’s whereabouts on the highway.

Also, the deputy was driving at a normal speed without lights and sirens until learning that it was a fatality.

'Always had a smile on his face'

Cavan’s death was tragic, as he was incredibly loved and was always in good spirits, his family said. He played football, baseball and wrestled for Sheridan High School and Willimina High School.

Cavan's family did not want to go on camera, but voiced their feelings about him in emails to KATU.

"What I can tell you is Devin was an amazing person," his aunt, Sarah Grogan, wrote. "He always had a smile on his face, was always in good spirits and he was always there when someone needed something."

"He could make anybody laugh and he could always light up a room," she added.

A number of friends remembered Cavan on his Twitter page.

One friend tweeted: "I love you, man. Been thinking about you all day. Everybody misses you like crazy."

A celebration of life service will be held at 2 p.m. Sept. 28 at the Sheridan High School gym.

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