A 36-year-old man was killed Friday afternoon when he reportedly jumped or walked in front of a truck and was hit on state Highway 14 westbound, just west of the off-ramp to Evergreen Boulevard.
Lemuel Gibson III of Portland was pronounced dead at the scene, according to a bulletin from the Washington State Patrol.
Shortly after 4 p.m., the bulletin said, Gibson had been walking east, toward oncoming traffic, on the north shoulder when he moved in front of a westbound 2007 Freightliner box truck driven by Dan R. Pierce, 41, of Portland.
Pierce stopped after hitting Gibson, as required by law, and was not reported injured, the bulletin said.
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A witness, Bill Glaser of Ridgefield, said he saw the man dive onto Highway 14 from the ledge at the foot of Andresen Road.
Glaser said he'd been driving his mail-delivery truck on Andresen near Southeast Highland Drive and St. Joseph Catholic Church when he first saw the man walking downhill.
"He stepped out in front of my truck, and I almost hit him," Glaser said. "I yelled, 'Dude, what are you doing? Are you trying to get run over?'
"I looked him in the eye and it was just like he didn't hear anything I was hollering," Glaser added. "He wasn't there."
Glaser said the man walked down to the foot of Andresen at Evergreen, looked over the ledge and walked back to the north a short distance. The man then ran south and dived over the guardrail "Superman style" onto the busy freeway, Glaser said.
Glaser said he parked and jumped out of his truck, heard two loud thumping noises and looked over the rail. He said he saw the truck driver pulling over and a woman performing chest compressions on the injured man.
The box truck driver had had no chance to stop in time, Glaser said, adding, "I just feel bad for the driver. I just don't want anything bad to happen to him."
The scene "is burned into my mind," Glaser said Friday night. "I've been pretty rattled for most of the evening."
A WSP dispatcher confirmed that officials had heard reports that Gibson appeared suicidal before being hit, and that other drivers nearly hit him on the highway before Pierce's truck did.
The crash was under investigation and troopers hadn't reported a cause Friday night.
A family member called The Columbian to report receiving a call from Gibson saying he was on foot, didn't know where he was and wasn't feeling well. He is survived by young children, the family member said.
Westbound traffic was blocked for more than two hours as state troopers investigated, said Trooper Steve Schatzel with the Washington State Patrol.
Eastbound traffic was not blocked but was slowed, Schatzel said.
Troopers reopened the westbound lanes about 6:20 p.m., a WSP dispatcher said.