PORTLAND, Ore. – The death of two little girls hit by a car in Forest Grove on Sunday is opening up old wounds for at least three Portland-area mothers.
They all have sons who were hit by drivers that took off after the crash. Each of their stories is different, yet tragically similar.
“Dustin was my oldest son,” said Kristi Finney-Dunn. “He was killed in a hit-and-run drunk-driving crash a little over two years ago.”
Tammi Beers lost her son, Harley Rocher, when he was hit by a car while walking down a Beaverton street in January.
“He was walking and somebody hit him and kept going,” she said.
Mary Cooley’s son, Mike, was hit in June while riding his bicycle in North Portland. Mike survived, but is severely debilitated.
“He can’t walk,” said Mary. “He was in the hospital a hundred days. His whole life changed in a second.”
All three moms cringed when they heard what happened in Forest Grove, and it made them even more determined to stop it from happening again.
“We’re all in this club,” Beers said. “We’re all in it together.”
Kristi Finney-Dunn was looking for that connectedness in August of 2011 when her son was killed.
“I felt so alone because I didn’t know anyone else,” she said.
Her isolation pushed her to create a website called Faces of Fatalities. It’s a resource for people affected by hit-and-run crashes. Both Mary and Tammi found Kristi as they worked through their own challenges and grief. They hope the parents of those little girls in Forest Grove can find comfort in a similar way.
“This is why what Kristi is doing is so important,” Beers said. “The people who are going through this with their daughters right now, I think they need to know there is a way for them to get support.”
Providing support is just one of the website’s goals. These moms hope it can also help convince drivers to do the right thing should they ever hit someone.
“We would like for this type of human behavior to be addressed,” Cooley said. “If you hit someone and you drive away, you don’t know; are they dead?”
“I’m sure they’re terrified,” Finney-Dunn said. “But I think my own moral code would not allow me to leave no matter how horrific.”
Finney-Dunn is the only one with closure. A man was convicted in her son’s hit-and-run case and is now in prison. The other two are still waiting for police to find the people responsible for hitting their sons.