ESTACADA, Ore. – A 17-year-old Milwaukie boy died and six other teenagers were injured in an SUV crash on a Forest Service road near Estacada Saturday night.
Clackamas County sheriff’s deputies said at around 10:45 p.m. a Toyota 4Runner with the seven teens inside rolled over. The crash happened in an area with no cell phone service.
The teens were part of a larger group camping in the woods to end their spring break.
Nicholas Portis, 17, died in the crash.
Portis was a student at Milwaukie High School. Family and friends gathered at a memorial outside the school on Monday.
"He was a beautiful person," said Nick's mother Jeanette Robart. "Nick was very loving, very caring, very weird. Always had something to say to make people smile, make people laugh."
"Instead of staying at the campsite where they were supposed to stay, where they were supposed to be barbecuing - not drinking - they all made the dumb decision to get in a vehicle and speed down a very windy road," she added.
The other teens injured in the crash are expected to survive, deputies said. Their names were not released.
Cheyann Yates was in the passenger seat during the crash.
"I was the only sober person up there," she said. "Everybody wanted to go (four-wheeling), so we went up and found some snow and that's when everybody started pounding beers."
Yates said they were driving down a hill going about 70 mph when the 4Runner rolled.
"Three people flew out of the truck. Nick was one of them. He's the only one who didn't survive," she said.
Yates and the driver were the only ones wearing seat belts.
"We told the people in the back seat to put their seat belts on and my stubborn friend Nick Portis said no," she said.
After the crash, Yates said she ran to get another truck to try to save Nick. When she got back, Yates saw her friend take his last breath.
"The only thing I can think of is Nick. I haven't really slept since I got out of the hospital," she said.
The driver of the 4Runner, 19-year-old Joseph Childs, was injured in the crash. He does not face charges at this time, deputies said.
Robart said her son signed up for early entry into the U.S. Marine Corps. He was scheduled to leave in August. She said her family is planning a private memorial for Nick.
Grief counselors were available at Milwaukie High School on Monday.
"All teenagers are going to drink, we all know that," said Robart. "They're all going to do it sometimes, but God do it safe somewhere if you're gonna do it. Don't be stupid. Don't get in a car. Don't drive."