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Cayla Wilson died in March 2018, after eight years in a coma and giving birth to her daughter

COURTESY PHOTO: MULTNOMAH COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEYS OFFICE - Cayla Wilson was described by her mother as a beautiful soul, so kind and caring and hardworking.A 62-year-old man was sentenced to 16 years in prison last week for a traffic crash a decade ago that led to a young woman falling into a coma and eventually dying in the hospital.

The Multnomah County District Attorney announced the sentence for Jack Dean Whiteaker for recklessly causing the death of Cayla Wilson while "manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life."

Wilson's mother, Denise Wilson, read a victim impact state in court:

"My beautiful, sweet and funny girl had her whole life in front of her," Denise said. "She wanted to be successful in life for herself and her child. Cayla was a beautiful soul, so kind and caring and hardworking. She was someone special. She had a heart of gold. She was loved by so many people."

The investigation began on April 15, 2010, when Gresham Police Department officers responded to reports of an injury crash along Southeast Jenne Road near Southeast Jenne Lane. Investigators with the East Multnomah County Vehicular Crash Team determined Whiteaker was traveling southbound into a curve at a high rate of speed. He lost control of the vehicle, went into a sideways slide, regained traction and drove over the top of Wilson's 1990 Buick sedan.

Wilson, who was 19 at the time of the crash, was driving home from a job interview. The crash tore open and crushed the driver's side of the car. She sustained critical injuries. Whiteaker was originally prosecuted and convicted for what was then an assault of Wilson. The verdict was returned in 2012.

Wilson died on March 30, 2018, at the age of 27 as a result of the injuries she sustained. At the time of the crash, she was pregnant. Doctors delivered the baby by emergency caesarean section five weeks later.

Her daughter is now 9 years old.

"We're trying to figure out how to live again," said Wilson's father Bill Wilson. "(Cayla) kept us alive — she always kept the whole family motivated."

The court convicted Whiteaker on Oct. 31, 2019, of one count of first-degree manslaughter after he changed his plea. Upon release, he will be on three years of post-prison supervision. His driving privileges will be revoked for life.


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