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Fatal hit-and-run on Holgate Boulevard


by: JANE KENNEY-NORBERG - Taken from the Milwaukie intersection at Holgate Boulevard on February 14th, this photo shows the police investigation of the fatal hit-and-run accident in progress on Holgate, while the boulevard was closed for four hours between Milwaukie and S.E. 17th. The pedestrian victim lived nearby.Tommy Zane Gann reportedly liked to get up early and go out for coffee.

That may have been what he was doing, at 5:38 am in the predawn darkness on Valentine’s Day – Thursday, February 14th – when he was attempting to walk north across S.E. Holgate Boulevard at about 15th Street, near the apartment in which he lived.

A father and grandfather, 56-year-old Gann was struck by what witnesses said was a white full-size cargo van, and left dying in the street as the driver sped away.

Responding officers closed Holgate between S.E. 17th and Milwaukie Avenue for a meticulous investigation, forcing commuter traffic into Brooklyn side streets for a time. Their examination of the scene complete, police reopened Holgate to traffic before 10 am.

On the following day, Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson announced that officers had recovered a white Ford Econoline van which had been involved in the crime, and had identified the driver as 57-year-old Victorio Nogueda-Berrera, who had not yet been located, but was wanted for Felony Hit and Run.

He was described as 5'11" tall and weighing 200 pounds. Police released a photograph of the wanted man; it was unclear whether it was a mug shot from a previous arrest, or the photo taken for his Oregon Driver’s License.

“Crime Stoppers” then offered a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information, reported to “Crime Stoppers”, leading to an arrest in this case, or in any unsolved felony – and those giving the information can remain anonymous.

Crime Stoppers tips can be reported online – www.crimestoppersoforegon.com – or by calling 503/823-4357 and leaving your tip information. Spokesman Simpson added that this was the sixth traffic fatality in Portland in 2013 so far, and the third involving a pedestrian. Gann’s family held a candlelight vigil in his memory at 7 pm on Sunday evening, February 17th, near the scene of the accident. Nor was this incident particularly unique. There have been a number of vehicle-pedestrian accidents this year already – some hit-and-run, and some not. Shortly before this issue of THE BEE went to press, another similar hit-and-run occurred on S.E. Division Street, in front of Warner Pacific College at 68th Avenue.

This time the pedestrian was expected to survive; the driver of the responsible dark-colored SUV or truck was traveling eastbound on Southeast Division Street when it struck the woman as she was crossing the street. Witnesses said the driver never slowed down prior to, or after, striking the woman, later identified as 37-year-old Sulema Hernandez-Rivas.

Officers checked the area but did not locate any vehicles matching the witnesses’ description. However, the following day, Sunday, February 24, at 4 pm, 49-year-old Don Jeffrey Porter turned himself in, saying he believed he was involved in the crime, at the Portland Police Bureau's Central Precinct.

Traffic investigators later recovered Porter’s damaged 2013 Ford Escape from a local body shop. Nonetheless, police said they had evidence a second vehicle might have been involved in the crime, and continued searching for a second vehicle, a dark-colored 2005-2007 Ford Escape SUV, which should be missing its driver’s side mirror and would have minor damage along the driver's side front and side of the vehicle.

As for Porter, he was charged with Felony Hit and Run, Hindering Prosecution, and Tampering With Physical Evidence, and was booked into the Multnomah County Jail, pending arraignment. The identified suspect in the Holgate fatality, Victorio Nogueda-Berrer, remained at large as THE BEE went to press.