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One dead in early morning accident near Joseph Gale Elementary School

by: COURTESY PHOTO: FOREST GROVE POLICE DEPARTMENT - By 9:30 a.m., the accident site was still littered with a blanket, medical-supply backpacks, jeans with the belt still in them and a pair of black shoes.An employee of a local landscaping company died Wednesday morning after being struck by a sport-utility vehicle as he unloaded equipment from the large company trailer.

According to Capt. Mike Herb of the Forest Grove Police, J.T. Mercado-Nuno, a 49-year-old Hillsboro resident, and Scott Bafaro, 27, of Portland, were preparing to start work on the grounds of Joseph Gale Elementary School at about 7:30 a.m.

Their Oregon Green Thumb Landscape Maintenance truck was parked on 18th Avenue, next to the ball field, and the two men were apparently unloading equipment or working on a problem with their mower when Mercado-Nuno stepped slightly out from behind the trailer, into the street, and was struck by an SUV driven by Eric Adam MacDonald, 25, of Forest Grove.

A nurse at the Tuality Forest Grove Hospital Emergency Room, directly across Maple Street from the accident site, heard the crash, called 911 and notified colleagues, said Tuality spokesman Gerry Ewing.

Two doctors, a nurse and a nurse technician rushed across the street to help, Ewing said, and found Mercado-Nuno still alive, with a resident from one of the nearby homes already at his side.

A Lifeflight helicopter was in the air, heading for Forest Grove, when the medical personnel prounced Mercado-Nuno dead and cancelled the trip.

Because Wednesday is a late-start day for classes, Joseph Gale students were not around to witness the accident.

Ewing said MacDonald crossed the street to Tuality Forest Grove to give blood samples, which will be tested for the presence of intoxicants.

No citations have been issued but the accident is still under investigation, Herb said.

Scott Bafaro received non-life-threatening injuries, Herb said, and was driven to a hospital by his father, Brad Bafaro, special education director for the Forest Grove School District and founder of Adventures Without Limits, a Forest Grove nonprofit that aims to provide outdoor experiences for people of all ages and abilities.

Brad Bafaro also has an unofficial "guiding" role at Oregon Green Thumb, according to his profile page on the AWL website.

Oregon Green Thumb, located at 1341 Pacific Ave., started in 2007 as a nonprofit spin-off from AWL.

A Pacific University graduate, Brad Bafaro also helped found the Community Based Activities Program summer camp, which offers activities to youth with disabilities. He serves as its volunteer executive director.

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