Date: September 15, 2009
Location: St. Johns Road and NE 41st St., Vancouver
Names: Gordon Patterson, Antonio Eugene Cellestine
A memorial was held Wednesday, September 23, at Hudson’s Bay High School in Vancouver, Washington, for a popular teacher who was killed in a hit-and-run. The tragic accident took place at 4 PM on September 15, 2009, in the 4100 block of St. Johns Road in Vancouver. Gordon Patterson, 50, was on his bicycle when he was struck. The 18-year-old driver, who fled the scene, was taken into police custody later that day. He was held at Clark County Jail on felony hit-and-run charges.
When police arrived at the scene, a witness told them he saw a car speeding away from the accident site. The vehicle raced down a one-way road in the wrong direction, with the driver shifting in his seat to see out of his damaged windshield. The witness, who identified the car as possibly a Dodge Intrepid and described the driver, watched the car swerve from lane to lane before disappearing onto 44th Street. A police search led to a Plymouth Breeze with front end and windshield damage, parked in the 2400 block of NE 45th Street.
Cellestine, who has a long criminal record, had told an acquaintance that he sold the car earlier that day. But after questioning, Cellestine was arrested for the hit-and-run. He made his first court appearance the following morning.
Patterson was a popular technology teacher at the high school, known for his smile and the white lab coat he seemed to perennially wear. A former principal at Hudson’s Bay recalled, “He always looked at bringing out the best in kids.” Patterson had been at Hudson’s Bay for 14 years.
Mourners have been filling the site of the crash with flowers, and a candlelight vigil had been planned for 8 PM on Thursday, September 17, at the school.
This hit-and-run is both a crime and a tragedy, and we offer our sincere condolences, both to Patterson’s family and to the entire community trying to heal. Vancouver police are continuing to investigate, reportedly considering distracted driving as a possible factor. In addition, neighbors say the accident site is considered a dangerous stretch of road.
Hit-and-runs are a serious violation of Oregon Vehicle Code 811.705. The hit-and-run driver must be held civilly and criminally responsible for his or her actions. In a case like this, the Patterson family may wish to contact a reputable personal injury attorney with experience in hit-and-run crashes who will fight for the justice and compensation that they deserve. At Shulman DuBois, we believe that what happened to Gordon Patterson is simply unacceptable; we are committed to making sure that hit-and-run drivers are held accountable for their actions and that both victims and families receive the compensation they deserve.