In the past week, three people have died after motorcycle and car accidents in Cowlitz County, two on New Year’s Day. The Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office is asking drivers to practice safe driving habits to avoid more fatalities.
“The Sheriff’s Office is saddened by the loss of these lives and encourage everyone to practice safe driving habits to prevent future events of this nature. Speed, distracted driving, failure to utilize safety devices, and driving under the influence can have tragic consequences,” Sheriff Brad Thurman said in a Monday press release.
On Dec. 27, Gregory Friedel, 58, of Bremerton was fatally injured while participating in an off-road motorcycle race at the Woodland Motorcross track located in the 3200 block of Lewis River Road, the press release said. Deputies along with Fire District 1 personnel responded to the scene around 11:30 a.m. and found that Friedel had been struck by another rider while getting up from the track after a collision. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Just before 2 a.m. on Jan. 1, sheriff’s deputies, Castle Rock police and Fire District 6 staff responded to the 700 block of Headquarters Road Castle Rock after getting a report of a motorcycle accident. At the scene they found Nathanial Roller, 37, “injured and laying alongside the roadway,” the press release said.
Roller was pronounced dead at the scene despite lifesaving efforts, the press release said. Further investigation found that Roller left his nearby residence on an off-road motorcycle and was traveling on Headquarters Road when he left the roadway and was thrown from the motorcycle. The Coroner’s Office is awaiting toxicology results. He was not wearing a helmet and suffered severe head trauma, according to the press release.
There is a GoFundMe set up for Roller’s family for burial costs: https://www.gofundme.com/f/memorial-cost-for-sam-roller.
As of Monday night, there was $29,126 raised by 191 people of $10,000 goal.
“Words are so hard to find to explain the loss his family is enduring at this time,”
Organizer Elizabeth Muro Cruz of Longview wrote on behalf of Roller’s wife Anna and their three children. “They have a long road ahead of them.”
Muro Cruz wrote that though the crowdfunding was not something that Roller would ask for, it “is necessary to help his family to stay afloat during this time.”
“Sam was an amazing man, a giver, hard head, a protector and the best friend anyone would be-lucky to have,” she wrote.
A few hours later, just after 8:30 a.m. on Jan. 1, sheriff’s deputies, Cowlitz County Dive Rescue, Longview police, Washington State Patrol and Longview Fire responded to the intersection of Mt. Solo Road and Willow Grove Connection for the report of a vehicle upside down in the slough.
According to the press release, one person in the vehicle managed to get out, but the driver, 19-year-old Nathaniel Mingefiiy of Vancouver, was “found deceased and seat-belted in the vehicle.”
The Coroner’s Office is awaiting toxicology results in that death as well, the press release said. Further investigation found that the vehicle was southbound on Mt. Solo Road and failed to come to a stop at the intersection with Willow Grove Connection Road, continuing through the intersection and into the slough.