UCSO releases more details on the tragic Christmas Day crash

By on Thursday, January 4th, 2024 in Columbia Basin News More Top Stories

The following is a news release from the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office:

It is with deep sadness that we confirm the passing of 10-year-old Anthony Jiovanni Guizar, a young resident of Hermiston, Oregon, due to injuries sustained in a multiple vehicle crash that occurred on December 25th, 2023, along Umatilla River Rd outside of Hermiston.

The incident, initially responded to by the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office and Umatilla County Fire District #1, required a concerted effort from multiple agencies including Oregon State Police, Hermiston Police, Umatilla Police, and Stanfield Police. The collision involved three vehicles, resulting in nine individuals being affected, most with critical injuries, including 5 children.

The preliminary investigation revealed that the tragic sequence of events unfolded when Vehicle #1, a 2008 Honda Accord operated by Raileen Cook (23) of Hermiston, traveling southbound, collided with Vehicle #2, a 1998 Honda Civic driven by Brittni Mendoza (24) of Hermiston, which was heading northbound. The impact was substantial, subsequently leading to Vehicle #3, a 2005 Pontiac driven by Misti Whibeck (47) of Hermiston, striking Vehicle #2 while attempting to avoid Vehicle #1. The driver of Vehicle #1 is suspected of impaired driving.

The 2008 Honda Accord driven by Raileen Cook (Vehicle #1) had two additional passengers, Raileen’s sons (3 and 5). All three occupants sustained injuries.

The 1998 Honda Civic drive by Brittni Mendoza (Vehicle #2) had four additional passengers. Including Brittni’s daughter (19 months) (Editor’s note: corrected by UCSO from 17 months), and Brittini’s sister, Jennika Mendoza (25) of Hermiston, with Jennika’s daughter (6) and son Anthony (10).  All occupants received significant injuries, with Anthony’s injuries being fatal. 

Misti Whibeck was the sole occupant of the 2005 Pontiac (Vehicle #3). She was interviewed and released at the scene of the crash, with no reported injuries at the time.

Anthony Guizar, despite receiving medical care at Legacy Randall’s Hospital for Children in Portland, Oregon, succumbed to his injuries on December 30th, 2023.

The investigation into this devastating incident remains ongoing. We extend our heartfelt condolences and unwavering support to the families affected by this tragedy. Our gratitude goes out to the first responders and medical personnel who rendered immediate assistance and continue to provide support during the investigation.