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St. Helens woman killed in crash on Highway 30

Mother of two dies; Warrenton woman hospitalized


A mother of two was killed Monday morning, May 4, in a three-vehicle crash on Highway 30.

Heather Robison, 26, of St. Helens, was driving a 2003 Mitsubishi Galant westbound on Highway 30 just after 10 a.m., when her car was struck by a 2007 Toyota Camry, Columbia County Sheriff Jeff Dickerson reported Thursday.

The crash happened near the intersection of Jack Falls and Lindberg roads, about three miles southeast of Rainier.

According to the Sheriff's Office, 20-year-old Kierstin Merila of Warrenton was driving the Camry, when it crossed over the lane and hit Robison's car.

COLUMBIA COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE PHOTO - Emergency responders remain on the scene of a fatal traffic crash that happened on Highway 30 Monday morning. The highway remained closed more than five hours after the crash.

Robison's two sons, 7-month-old Jaxsen and 6-year-old Jozef, were in the car when the crash happened.

Robison’s sons both were hospitalized for observation after the crash, but were uninjured, according to family members.

Merila was taken to PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center in Longview, Wash. She was still hospitalized as of Friday, but Dickerson said she is expected to recover from her injuries.

When sheriff's deputies arrived at the hospital, they were met with Merila's father, Andrew Merila, a lieutenant with Oregon State Police. He turned over his daughter's phone to a sheriff's investigator, Dickerson said.

"We have conducted a review of the cell phone records of Kierstin Merila's cell phone and have determined that there is no indication that she was sending or receiving text messages at the time of the crash," Dickerson stated via email. "There is no indication that the phone was in use at all at the time of the crash."

The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

The section of Highway 30 where the crash occurred was closed for more than seven hours after the crash. Traffic was routed around the closure on Apiary, Laurel Wood, Lindberg and Meissner roads.

Robison’s father, Troy Loeks, said Robison was driving her kids to see their great grandparents that morning. He said his grandson Jozef told him he got out of the car and waved down help after the crash.

Loeks said Robison spent much of her childhood in Columbia County and attended St. Helens High School for a while, before transferring to another school while she lived with her mother. She eventually went on to study to become a medical assistant.

He said his daughter was outgoing and made friends easily.

“She just opened up to everyone,” Loeks said. “She loved her friends, loved her family. She’d spend her last dollars doing a favor for someone and never expected anything in return.”

Robison’s cousin Lora Dietrich reflected on Robison, calling her “the strongest person I knew.”

“She was a very fun-loving, outgoing person and was such a great mother and wife,” Dietrich said. “Her youngest boy is almost seven months old and her oldest six. He’s the spitting image of what she was and how strong she was.”

Memorial funds have been established for Robison’s husband and children. Donations can be made to the Heather Robison Memorial Fund at St. Helens Community Federal Credit Union or online at https://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/cdp8/for-heather-robison-s-family.

This story has been updated with the names of the drivers and highway conditions. The second driver's age has also been updated. JW_DISQUS_ADD_A_COMMENT