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Seconds after Cory Jones lit the flame on a neighbor’s candle, a persistent, chilly breeze blew it out.
Maria Delos-Carrasco Angulo probably would not have known any of the three dozen people struggling to light candles in her memory Friday night. Yet, that scarcely mattered to Jones, 29, as he stood near a makeshift shrine of a stuffed dog and giraffe, yellow and red roses and a single cherubic picture of the hit-and-run victim in front of Becerra’s Plaza.
“It’s the point that we’re showing support for somebody who shouldn’t be gone,” said Jones, who had seen Angulo around but did not know her.
Angulo, a 25-year-old hair salon employee, died around 7:20 p.m. Thursday shortly after a Honda hatchback car struck her as she walked in a crosswalk on Fourth Plain Boulevard between Neals and Rossiter lanes. Her body came to rest near Becerra’s Plaza, an estimated 125 feet from the point where the car made impact with her.
Prosecutors charged James I. Collins, 37, of Vancouver, on suspicion of felony hit-and-run and vehicular homicide. Clark County Superior Court Judge John Wulle set Collins’ bail at $75,000, noting he had little information about the case’s evidence. Collins waived “probable cause,” meaning that officers did not have to submit a report to the judge outlining the arrest’s basis.
That such an incident would happen on Fourth Plain Boulevard did not surprise 17-year-old Gabriela Valencia or others at the vigil. They recalled their own near misses and experiences witnessing others who were less fortunate. Angulo’s death provides vivid proof that the city needs to place a red light between Neals and Rossiter lanes, they said.
“The details shocked me,” Valencia said as she stood in front of a meat market. “But it’s kind of normal to hear about this type of thing happening.”
Valencia has a cousin who survived being hit crossing Fourth Plain near Rossiter Lane, she noted. To her right, her cousin Maria Valencia recalled an incident three or four months ago in which she had to forcibly yank her friend out of the way of an oncoming car. The friend mistakenly believed the car would yield to her, given the flashing yellow light.
“It’s not a caution; it’s a stop,” Jones said minutes earlier. “We’ve got kids. It’s not right.”
Jones worries about his three children as well as other children playing at nearby Evergreen Park. He called on the city’s leaders to take action.
“The fact lights weren’t changed to red the first time someone was hit here was a huge injustice,” he said.
Angulo worked once or twice per week for the past month at Alternativas Hair Salon in Becerra’s Plaza, owner Vilma Ortega said. The new employee cleaned the store sometimes and at other times assisted Ortega in her daily tasks.
Angulo moved from Salem about three months earlier and had a 3-year-old son, the owner added.
“She was a good lady. Just happy,” Ortega said as she locked up for the evening.
Like most people at the vigil, Kristi Finney did not know Angulo.
She attended the gathering to bring awareness to hit-and-run offenses. Her 28-year-old son, Dustin, died when a motorist veered into the bicycle lane, as he rode his bike on an early August morning in Southeast Portland.
“We all need to be mindful,” Finney said. “Each person out there is somebody’s wife, daughter, son, or husband.”
Police arrested Collins in the 11100 block of Northeast 43rd Circle after witnesses followed him from the scene.
Suspect in court
In court Friday, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Alan Harvey asked Judge Wulle to give Collins a $500,000 bail. Harvey pointed to the suspect’s two prior convictions for possession of a controlled substance and his fugitive hold.
Appointed attorney Suzan Clark dismissed suggestions her client was a flight risk. He has lived in Clark County 15 years and is a full-time student, Clark said.
After the hearing, Harvey said he was prepared to file charges of vehicular homicide that took into account evidence of reckless driving and driving with disregard for the safety of others. Harvey would not say whether Collins was impaired at the time of the crash, citing the investigation’s ongoing nature. However, the prosecutor did not rule out filing charges with those allegations.
Outside court, Karma Prue, Collins’ brother, fiancée, said she believed Collins intended to visit their house when the crash happened. She lives with Collins’ brother two blocks from where Angulo was hit. Prue suspected Collins panicked after the crash.
She expressed sympathy for Angulo’s family.
“We do feel for them,” Prue said.