Police ID grandmother, cancer survivor killed in hit-run rampage
Portland police have identified the 77-year-old woman who was hit and killed during a violent hit-and-run rampage that injured nine others in Southeast Portland on Monday, Jan. 25.
Jean Gerich's family said she was a proud mother and grandmother.
"Jean Gerich was not a nameless victim. She was a loving mother of two. She was a proud grandmother of five, ages 4 to 16. She would have turned 78 in 12 days. She beat cancer five years ago. She received her first vaccination shot last week and was overjoyed to get out in the world again. She has lived in the city of Portland since 1972 and for those 48 years she has loved her community of friends, Forest Park, and the proximity to nature. We are grateful for the good Samaritans who were at the scene," the family said in a Jan. 26 statement.
A vigil was planned for the victims at Buckman Field Park at 5 p.m. Tuesday. Two of the injured were cyclists and six were pedestrians. They all suffered minor injuries and are recovering.
Police have not yet released the name of the driver, who is still hospitalized. Detectives did not find evidence that this was an act of terrorism or bias, and don't believe the act was politically motivated. A blood draw has been sent to the lab for toxicology.
Investigators said there were multiple crime scenes and that the deadly rampage began near Laurelhurst Park around 1 p.m. on Jan. 25 when the driver slammed into several people on the sidewalk along a stretch of Southeast Stark Street.
The crime scenes span from Southeast Cesar E. Chavez Boulevard and Southeast 15th Avenue, and from East Burnside Street to Southeast Belmont Street.
Police say as they were responding to the first report, they quickly received calls that the same driver was involved in other crashes of cars and pedestrians.
Authorities said they received multiple calls about an incident with the Honda Element at Southeast 32nd and Belmont, 33rd and Belmont, 37th and Pine and other points before it ended between Southeast 18th and 17th near Stark.
The suspect then attempted to run away on foot, but people in the neighborhood helped "corral" him until police could take him into custody, Sgt. Derek Carmon said.
Portland Fire & Rescue Lt. Rich Chatman said once they responded to the scene at Southeast 18th and Stark, they quickly realized it was a "multiple patient scene."
One witness, Charles Kuzika, told KOIN 6 News he "saw a car coming down Washington and people moving away from where that car was. I saw a victim on the road a block away at 19th and Stark."
Kuzika went to where he saw the victim and by the time he got there, two men were already there.
"One of them seemed to know what he was doing in the medical field because he was checking on her in a gentle way and asking if she could feel this or if she could feel that and telling her she would be OK," he said. "She said the gentleman who had hit her had come back and hit her a second time."
Others in the neighborhood were aware of what was going on, he said, "because I could hear yelling, 'He just got out of his car a block away!' and people would run. And there are heroes amongst us."
The investigation is ongoing. Police say they are looking for any video or pictures from the hit-and-run. Any witnesses or those who find evidence are asked to call PPB at 503-823-3333 with the information.
KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune. Their story can be found here.
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