Tuesday, June 28, 2022
June 28, 2022

Linkedin Pinterest

Family of girl killed last year urging Halloween safety this year

Cadence Boyer died two days after being struck by car while trick-or-treating

By , Columbian Breaking News Reporter
4 Photos
A candle illuminates a framed photo of Cadence Boyer at her grandmother's house in Vancouver. Cadence was struck by an allegedly intoxicated driver on Halloween night last year and died two days later.
A candle illuminates a framed photo of Cadence Boyer at her grandmother's house in Vancouver. Cadence was struck by an allegedly intoxicated driver on Halloween night last year and died two days later. (Photos by Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Annie Boyer can’t go into her 7-year-old daughter’s old bedroom, its walls decorated with photos of Paris.

She can’t read the messages of love that the second-grader wrote in crayon on dozens of pieces of paper.

But mostly, she can’t bear to see photos of her blond-haired girl taken as she beamed back at her mother through the camera lens.

And even though she can’t, she wants you to.

“I want everybody to see the beautiful little girl we lost because of someone else’s actions,” Boyer said. “I want people to know how real this is, that it could happen to anyone.”

Boyer’s daughter, Cadence, was fatally injured last Halloween night when an allegedly intoxicated driver tore onto the sidewalk and struck the trick-or-treater. Cadence was one of three Clark County people who died last year because of suspected intoxicated driving on Halloween night.

Police are upping their enforcement Saturday in an attempt to prevent another deadly Halloween night from happening again.

Tragedy strikes

Dressed in her pink Batgirl outfit, Cadence excitedly ran around her home on the evening of Oct. 31. Before Cadence and her mom headed out, Boyer got a call from Chelina Alsteen, who said that 6-year-old Ava Carrodus didn’t have anyone to go trick-or-treating with. The four decided to go together.

Having filled their bags full of candy, the group grew tired as they walked along Northeast 112th Avenue in Vancouver at about 8:20 p.m. But before turning in, they decided to make one more stop.

“I wish I could go back and not go to that apartment,” Boyer said.

It was then that 47-year-old Duane C. Abbott allegedly drove his 1967 Ford Mustang onto the sidewalk, careening into the group. Boyer, Alsteen, Cadence and Ava were all rushed to local hospitals. Ava was treated and released from the hospital about a week later.

Alsteen suffered a traumatic brain injury and several broken bones, including a broken spine and leg, and was treated at Vibra Specialty Hospital of Portland for several months.

Boyer suffered a crushed pelvis, broken shoulder, broken arm and a broken vertebra, and she said she still suffers from pain associated with those injuries.

Cadence suffered a broken back and had no blood flow to her brain. She was on life support at Randall Children’s Hospital in Portland before she died two days after the crash.

Abbott later told police he smokes 2 to 3 grams of marijuana daily and that he smoked his last joint three hours before the crash, according to court records. He faces vehicular homicide charges and three counts of vehicular assault. He is scheduled to go to trial on Nov. 16.

A busy night

Vancouver Police Department Sgt. Mike Chylack was one of the three officers who first arrived at the crash scene. Medics had already taken Cadence away, but he saw the aftermath: candy sprawled on the grass, abandoned trick-or-treating bags and a little girl’s boot.

“Every officer was affected,” he said, adding that all three of them had children. “It makes it a lot harder.”

Halloween Safety Tips

Officials with the Washington Poison Center, Clark County’s health department and sheriff’s office, AAA and Oregon Health & Science University are reminding Halloween revelers of a few things to keep in mind to ensure a safe weekend:

• For adults, have a plan. Pick a designated driver, think about what to do when separated from friends and know when to call it a night.

• Also, adults who choose to imbibe marijuana, alcohol or any other drug should not drive, even more so on Halloween, when there are kids running about.

• Enjoy in moderation. Also, remember the state has a Good Samaritan law that protects residents from prosecution for drug possession when seeking drug-related medical help for themselves or a friend.

• It’s best to check candy packaging for rips and tears, avoid homemade goods and otherwise make sure that what ends up in the loot bag at the end of the night is actually candy. Or raisins, if you stopped at one of those houses.

• In a similar vein, marijuana edibles — in which the active ingredient from cannabis is infused into candies, gummies, chocolates, baked goods and  beverages — often look like their non-mind altering counterparts. Adults who choose to have such substances around should remember that others, kids especially, might not always know the difference.

• Costume makers and buyers are encouraged to opt for bright colors. Failing that, include reflective tape to increase visibility to nearby drivers. Drivers also should be aware that there’ll be plenty of people in dark clothes roaming around the roads Halloween night.

• Slow down when driving. According to AAA, a pedestrian is more than twice as likely to die when struck by a vehicle going 35 mph compared to 25 mph.

• When possible, drivers might do well to avoid residential areas at all on Halloween night. Trick-or-treaters may have their eyes on the prize, as opposed to passing traffic.

• Have an adult accompany younger tick-or-treaters. For older children, review road safety rules, know their route, set a curfew, and provide a cellphone for emergencies. It’s also a smart move to verify children know their last names, phone numbers or home addresses, or to pin that information to their costumes, should they get separated from a chaperone.

• Use only face paint meant for use on the skin. To help avert skin irritation, look for face paints labeled with “Made with U.S.-approved colored additives,” “laboratory tested,” “nontoxic” or “meets federal standards for cosmetics.” Also, avoid cosmetic or decorative contact lenses, because they can cause eye damage.

• Face paint is also a good alternative to masks, which can obstruct pedestrians’ vision.

• In the case of young children, parents should talk to them about the difference between reality and make-believe, because Halloween tends to be about blurring the two.

• Glow sticks are great for visibility, and while they’re mostly nontoxic, the liquid inside a glow stick can cause irritation if it gets in eyes or is swallowed.

• Some treats, chocolate especially, can be poisonous to pets, so pet owners need to watch out.

— Andy Matarrese

That night nearly a year ago, Chylack said, was the busiest night he’s worked in his 21 years as a police officer.

Nearly 90 minutes after the trick-or-treaters were struck, police responded to a crash on Northeast 136th Avenue and Fourth Street in Vancouver. Officers found that an Acura Integra had crashed into a traffic pole with enough force to tear the car in two.

The driver, William W. McCulloch, 17, and his passenger, Shaun M. Hvass, 18, were pronounced dead at the scene. They both had alcohol in their system, Vancouver police Sgt. Pat Johns said.

The crashes made an already hectic night busier; patrol officers also responded to reports of robberies and shots fired.

While police were investigating the crash on Northeast 112th Avenue, a vehicle rammed through the barricade at about 1:30 a.m. and nearly hit several officers. The driver, identified as Timothy E. Woodward, 29, of Portland, also allegedly was intoxicated.

Increased patrols

This Halloween, the Vancouver Police Department is putting at least three extra officers on the road to look out for intoxicated drivers. Though they didn’t get the grant money they’d hoped for, Vancouver police spokeswoman Kim Kapp said that they think the overtime is worth it.

“We’re all sort of on pins and needles,” Kapp said. “Stay home, arrange for a cab — whatever they do, don’t change someone’s life because you’re going to a Halloween party. It’s not worth that for anybody.”

Johns added that the monetary loss of an intoxicated-driving citation isn’t worth it either.

“Take an Uber or a taxi. It’s cheaper than upwards of $10,000 for a DUI,” he said.

With rain forecast for Saturday, Johns said that visibility will be low — which means both motorists and trick-or-treaters should use extra caution.

Almost half of all traffic fatalities on Halloween night involve an impaired driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and that number is higher when the holiday falls on a weekend.

“Have a safe holiday, wear bright clothes, wear (glow sticks) that illuminate who you are and where you’re at,” he said. Though pedestrians have the right of way, Johns said, “we want you to yield to everybody. You’re not going to win the fight with the car, motorcycle or bus.”

The Boyers have the same message.

Cathy Boyer, Cadence’s grandmother, works for Northwest Traffic Control. The company made 300 reflective trick-or-treat bags for children in honor of Cadence and to promote safety.

“Don’t think you’re invincible,” Annie Boyer said. “I’m worried. I hope it doesn’t happen again to someone else’s family.”

Columbian Breaking News Reporter

Support local journalism

Your tax-deductible donation to The Columbian’s Community Funded Journalism program will contribute to better local reporting on key issues, including homelessness, housing, transportation and the environment. Reporters will focus on narrative, investigative and data-driven storytelling.

Local journalism needs your help. It’s an essential part of a healthy community and a healthy democracy.

Community Funded Journalism logo