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Man stopping to aid motorist dies in Interstate 5 pileup

Wed., May 18, 2011

A Spokane man was killed on Interstate 5 near Woodland, Wash., on Monday night after he stepped out of a car to help a motorist who had crashed.

Ronnie D. Walker, 61, had gotten out of his brother’s vehicle, which had stopped in front of the 9:25 p.m. crash, and walked back to help in what became a chain-reaction involving four vehicles.

Walker was a part-time employee of The Spokesman-Review, working in the packaging department. He had been with the paper for 12 years.

He had flown from Spokane to Portland on Monday evening and was on his way to Longview, Wash., with his brother, who had picked him up at the airport, according to an acquaintance who gave him a ride to the Spokane airport earlier in the day.

They were headed to a Longview hospital to visit their dying father, the acquaintance said.

Washington State Patrol troopers said the pileup started when a Woodland woman who was headed north in a 2006 Dodge Durango hit the center barrier, coming to rest in the left lane.

Walker, who was standing along the freeway, was hit twice by different vehicles in a chaotic pileup. He died at the scene.

Two injured women were taken by ambulance to a Vancouver, Wash., hospital.

The accident in north Clark County was under investigation, with charges pending.

Laurie Lunzer, Spokesman-Review production manager, said the staff was not surprised to learn Walker had stopped to help a motorist. She described him as a loyal employee “with a big heart.”

“We are shocked and saddened by his death, and our thoughts are with his family during this difficult time,” Lunzer said in prepared statement.

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