A Longview man wants to find and thank the people who helped him try to save a Longview motorcyclist who ultimately died in a crash Thursday.
He also expressed frustration and disappointment with onlookers who gawked instead of helping, and he offered suggestions for any motorists or pedestrians who may one day find themselves in a similar situation.
The motorcyclist, 21-year-old Austin Cortes, died after colliding with a passenger car at the intersection of Washington Way and 28th Avenue early Thursday afternoon. His death was determined to be accidental by the Cowlitz County Coroner’s Office.
Cortes’ family has a fundraiser set up on the website MealTrain, which can be found at https://www.mealtrain.com/trains/1w6l43.
“We would also like to thank all the individuals who selflessly rendered aid,” said Christina Barboza, who organized the fundraiser. “Their efforts didn’t go unnoticed. May they be blessed and have peace of mind that their effort were sufficient and greatly appreciated. Our family is grateful that during this pandemic and social distancing guidelines they approached Austin with bravery and humanity. We are forever grateful for them and their efforts.”
Jared Morrison, a 44-year-old insurance broker by day and a staff sergeant in the Washington State Guard, rushed to Cortes’ aid while barefoot and in boxers. He wants to highlight those who helped him try to save the motorcyclist’s life.
“The main thing is, I just want that guy’s family to know that people at the scene tried,” Morrison said Friday. “For me personally, I’d like to thank the few people who came out to help.”
Morrison, who lives only a block away from the collision scene, was on his day off from the Washington State Guard, for which he’s recently been tasked with aiding in COVID-19 contact tracing efforts. The State Guard is part of the Washington Military Department and aids with homeland defense, emergency response and other domestic missions similar to the National Guard.
Morrison rushed over when he heard the collision, barefoot and in his boxer shorts, along with his wife, he said.
Morrison screamed for people to help him pull the unconscious motorcyclist to safety, as the motorcycle itself was on fire just feet away. He was disappointed to see people “lining the streets” with their phones out recording the event.
“I felt it was so disrespectful, these people who didn’t want to help but wanted content for their (social media) feed,” he said. “I’m a soldier. We’re trained to see other people, to be there, and I thought I was doing the same thing anyone else would in that situation.”
Because of Cortes’ injuries, it would have been too dangerous for Morrison to drag him to safety alone. However, a couple of young women and a young man helped Morrison lift Cortes and move him away.
“We like to make fun of millennials, but they were the only ones that stepped up into the situation to help, and that meant a lot to me, that really did,” he said.
Morrison said he saw a few other people help out afterward, including a couple people who helped fight the motorcycle flames with a fire extinguisher.
Longview police arrived before fire crews and performed CPR, according to the Longview Fire Department, but despite their and paramedics’ efforts, Cortes died.
Morrison’s military history may have helped his initiative to jump in and help, but anyone can be prepared to help in case of a traffic accident, he said, such as by knowing CPR and carrying a basic first aid kit and even a fire extinguisher in your vehicle.
“You never know when you’re going to be the only one on the scene and someone’s life may be in your hands.”
Longview police are investigating the circumstances of the crash, and an update on that investigation wasn’t available Monday.
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