13-year-old Estacada boy sent to hospital following assault
Estacada Middle School student Trenton Roth was walking home from school last month when he says he was attacked by four other teenagers in the Ranger Woods.
Around 3 p.m. Tuesday, April 20, Roth was taking his usual path to his family's house through the wooded area behind Estacada High School when the group allegedly attacked him. He was hit in the head with a skateboard and left unconscious.
"It's still kind of a blurr, but the main thing I remember is going into the forest and getting knocked out," Roth said.
On April 20, the 13-year-old Estacada boy went to the emergency room with injuries to his head, teeth, arms, legs and chest. The following week, he returned to the emergency room because of difficulty walking and reading, potentially because of neurological damage.
Roth didn't make it home the day of the incident until around 3:30 p.m., so his mother, Sarah Wright, estimates he was unconscious for at least 15 minutes.
Someone helped him to his feet and guided him out of the woods, and another community member gave him a ride home.
Wright said Roth's younger siblings "just started screaming" when their brother arrived home.
"He was covered head to toe in blood," she said.
After the incident, Trenton didn't fully remember everything that happened. Wright made a post on Facebook describing what occurred and asked the community for any information they may have.
During the family's initial visit to the emergency room, Wright had a video of the attack sent to her. It had been sent to another community member via the social media app Snapchat.
"Right after this happened, we didn't know who did it. (Trenton) had zero memory," Wright said. "The community kind of did the police work for us ... Without social media, we never would have ever figured it out this quickly."
The Clackamas County Sheriff's Office denied the Pamplin Media Group's initial public records request for the police report pertaining to this incident and had not responded to a second request as of press time. The sheriff's office told Fox 12 News it has identified and interviewed all suspects involved, who are juveniles between the ages of 15 and 16. The case is now being sent to the Clackamas County District Attorney's Office and the Juvenile Department.
Schools work to prevent bullying
Wright doesn't believe that Roth's safety can be guaranteed, so he will not return to Estacada Middle School this year. Principal Ben Hargrave said a new system of reporting bullying incidents was implemented at the middle school last year.
"Any student that comes to the office or sends us an email to let us know something is going on in regard to bullying, we start a paper trail," Hargrave said. "One thing we don't do is assume that it's bullying. First, we have a conversation with the student about the choices that students are making and the behaviors that are happening, how it was perceived, how long it's been going on, whether or not the student was able to do anything about it and who else they've told. Together, we determine whether or not it's bullying behavior."
If the behavior is determined to be bullying, an investigation occurs.
Additionally, three years ago the middle school adopted a social emotional learning curriculum called Second Step, which includes talking with students about social relationships and self awareness.
"Since implementing that, the number of times students come to the office to report bullying has decreased, and that's to be celebrated," Hargrave said.
Wright said that her son had told a teacher that the same group of students who attacked him were bullying him verbally. She added that after the incident, she was told by school administrators that Roth needed to fill out a form at the front office.
Hargrave declined to discuss the specifics of this, citing student privacy.
"If things were reported, then we would have done an investigation," he said.
"If you're confiding in a teacher, that should be taken seriously regardless of if you fill out a form or not," Wright said, adding that she does not blame the teacher Roth spoke to for what occurred.
Estacada School District leaders are in the process of conducting an investigation into the incident in the Ranger Woods.
"Ultimately, the district will do any thorough investigation that needs to take place while still protecting the privacy of anyone that's been involved," said Maggie Kelly, communications director for the Estacada School District.
Previously, the district had removed trees and added lighting to increase safety and visibility in the Ranger Woods.
The Roth family is working to start a counseling group in the schools for students who may be experiencing bullying.
"I think having that open conversation for kids would be great," Wright said.
They said they would like to see the schools do more to prevent bullying.
"I feel like they just kind of shrug it off," Roth said, adding that's been his experience in schools outside of Estacada, as well.
Hargrave noted that school leaders have a responsibility to "improve how students treat one another at school."
According to a recent student engagement survey at the middle school, the lowest rated indicator pertained to students treating each other with respect.
"We know at this age kids act in ways that need some boundaries to be set, and we've done a lot of work with students," Hargrave said, adding that they've implemented programs like Togetherness Tuesdays, where students write letters of gratitude to a fellow student or adult at school. "We have a lot of work to do, and a lot of ground to cover, but we're doing some things that I believe are having a positive impact on our school's climate."
Community supports family
In the aftermath of the incident in the Ranger Woods, Estacada community members have rallied around Roth and his family. He's received cards, candy and flowers. His school laptop broke during the attack, and someone provided him with a replacement at no cost.
"It's kind of mind boggling," Roth said.
"There's just been numerous people messaging us and sending prayers," Wright added.
A GoFundMe was created to help with the cost of medical expenses. As of Monday, May 3, more than $5,500 had been donated.
During the April 26 City Council meeting, Estacada Mayor Sean Drinkwine and several councilors said that bullying should not have a place in the community.
"I think we have an issue that needs to be addressed. I think we cannot have this in our city. I think this is way outside of the box," Drinkwine said. "I'd like to get the school district, if possible, to set up another joint meeting (with the City Council), so we can sit down and talk about these issues while they're still fresh and maybe work on ways to prevent anything like this from happening again."
Councilor Charity Hughes described the incident as "really upsetting."
"This is a community issue, so we really need to be looking out for each other," she said.
The Roth family hopes to spread awareness of bullying by sharing their story.
"My hope is that by sharing his story and what he has gone through, it will make people aware of bullying and make the schools take it more seriously, so it doesn't have to get to this extent," Wright said.
Support the Roth family
A GoFundMe page to assist with medical expenses for the Roth family is available at bit.ly/3aOVe3Q
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