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Century graduate dies in seven-vehicle pileup Tuesday

Casandra Stolzenberger, 20, was a passenger in car hit in TV Highway crash

COURTESY PHOTO: WASHINGTON COUNTY SHERIFFS OFFICE - A Chevron gas station at the corner of Southwest Tualatin Valley Highway and Southwest 185th Avenue in Aloha was the scene of a multi-vehicle crash Tuesday evening that killed a young woman and sent seven other people to area hospitals.A 20-year-old alumna of Hillsboro’s Century High School died in a seven-vehicle pileup along Tualatin Valley Highway in Aloha Tuesday evening.

The accident killed Casandra Elaine Stolzenberger and sent seven other people to local hospitals, some with critical injuries, said Sgt. Bob Ray of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff’s deputies responded to the crash around 7 p.m. Sept. 1 and discovered a 2002 GMC pickup, which was pulling a trailer, upside-down in a Chevron gas station parking lot on the corner of Southwest TV Highway and Southwest 185th Ave.

“There were six other vehicles, several with extensive damage, strewn within a 150-foot area,” said Ray. “I’ve never been to a crash that was so widespread and catastrophic.”

The pickup, driven by Kerry Wagner, 45, of Hillsboro, had been traveling eastbound on Southwest TV Highway — reportedly at a high rate of speed — when it failed to brake as it approached the intersection at 185th and crashed into several vehicles stopped at a traffic light there.

Stolzenberger was a front-seat passenger in a 1995 Honda Civic struck by Wagner’s truck. She died at the scene, said Ray.

The young woman, who graduated from Century in 2013, was almost immediately eulogized by friends and family members on Facebook.

Aloha resident Marc Turiano memorialized Stolzenberger by recalling the exchange of “best friends forever” rings — and the way she made him feel.

“We were close friends back in high school. You were always easy to talk to,” Turiano wrote. “Remember those cheesy ‘best friends forever’ rings you, me and Jessica had? It’s been a few years but I still held on to mine.

“I remember being self-conscious about wearing it because it was too feminine. But I stopped caring about that after a while. I wore it because of what it meant to me. Knowing that you saw me as a best friend meant a lot. You’ll be missed, Cas. Rest in peace.”

Beth Graser, spokeswoman for the Hillsboro School District, said Stolzenberger’s family has asked for privacy as they process Casandra’s sudden death.

She said a district “Flight Team” had been put in place at Century to support staff members who need help managing their grief, and that when students return to class next week, the grief-response team will continue operating as needed.

The Washington County Crash Analysis Reconstruction Team assisted with the investigation, closing the roadway until 2 a.m. Wednesday to gather evidence and document the scene.

Witnesses reported the GMC pickup was “driving erratically prior to the crash,” Ray said, and the sheriff’s office is asking that anyone who may have seen Wagner’s truck in the area prior to the crash to call 503-629-0111 to report their observations.