Less than a month after Talent resident Kevin Mayo died in what police believe was a road rage-caused motorcycle crash on I-5, another tragedy has struck the family.
Monique Kelley, Mayo's older sister, is reportedly at the Oregon Health & Science University hospital in Portland paralyzed from the chest down following a rollover crash earlier this week in Klamath County, according to their mother, Kibby Mayo of Brookings.
From the hospital, Kibby Mayo said the major life change her daughter faces has been part of a "terrible domino effect" that started after Kevin Mayo died. Kelley's crash followed a Southern Oregon visit with her brother Chris — who'd been Kevin's business partner in an Ashland denture clinic — and to support their father getting a tattoo of Kevin's portrait at a Jacksonville shop.
On Monday morning, Kelley was driving home to Bend in her roommate's borrowed GMC Envoy when she hit a spot of black ice on Dead Indian Memorial Road, triggering a rollover that partially ejected her from her SUV. Kelley's 5-year-old son, Kamden, was — in the words of a GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign page — "miraculously uninjured" in the crash.
Kelley's son freed himself from the wreckage and flagged down a passing vehicle for help, and she was rushed to Sky Lakes Medical Center. Later Kelley was airlifted to Portland, where she underwent emergency spinal surgery to stabilize her condition. She faces a weeks-long hospital stay before she moves into an intensive rehabilitation program at the hospital where staff will help her learn how to deal with her limitation and adapt to her new reality.
“There’s always hope that we have to hold onto that she will regain (abilities) someday ... but that’s unlikely,” Kibby Mayo said.
As of Friday evening, 207 people had donated $14,093 for the family out of a $100,000 GoFundMe goal. Kibby Mayo said the family is facing "so many expenses that we can't even fathom right now" — from packing up Kelley's home in Bend, accommodating their home for Kelley or selling it, buying a van to transport Kelley and helping her daughter support herself in a new way. She was a cosmetologist specializing in barbering and lash extensions before the accident.
"Her business, she's not going to be able to do what she did," Kibby Mayo said.
Kibby Mayo said that every morning she has to remind herself that what's happened to the family isn't a dream, and that she needs to be strong for her family — "circling the wagons" to help how they can.
"Honestly, I can't even imagine it and I'm living it," she said. "My grief is so deep, I can't even talk."
The family's tragic stretch started Dec. 14, when Kevin Mayo, who lived in Talent, died on his motorcycle on Interstate 5 south of Medford, in what prosecutors and police allege was a crash fueled by road rage.
Two manslaughter charges against Raleigh Hugh Rodrigues, 65, of Talent, accused of "ramming" Mayo's Yamaha motorcycle with his full-size Chevrolet pickup, were dropped Thursday; but Deputy District Attorney Nick Geil said the dismissal is solely procedural, allowing prosecutors time to conduct a more thorough investigation before refiling charges and submitting the case to a grand jury.
"I just dismissed it so we could complete the investigation and go from there," Geil said.
Kibby Mayo said the family believes a charge of manslaughter is too light.
“They lifted my son’s hand print off that man’s car,” Kibby Mayo said.
Oregon State Police and prosecutors have stated the incident between Rodrigues and Mayo led to the crash that killed Mayo near milepost 26 on northbound I-5. Several witnesses reportedly told police they saw Rodrigues ram Mayo with his 2001 Chevrolet pickup at about 4 p.m. that day.
Mayo collided with the steel center median near mile 26, according to previous reports, and succumbed to his injuries at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center at 4:50 p.m.
Geil said the Oregon State Police crash investigation is still ongoing.
"There was a lot of folks on I-5," Geil said, adding that interviews still need to be completed. "That just takes time and manpower."
Rushing the investigation wasn't necessary, because Rodrigues had posted the 10 percent of his $250,000 bail needed to be released.
"There was no reason to hurry things because he was no longer in custody," Geil said. "Since he was out on bail, we decided to take advantage of the situation."
Geil said he hopes to present his evidence to a grand jury by the end of January.
In the meantime, Mayo said she's grateful for the ways people have reached out, be it hospital staff expressing support or more messages on Facebook than she can possibly read.
"I just can't say enough positive things about this place and the people who are reaching out to us," Kibby Mayo said. "I'm overwhelmed with gratitude as much as I'm overwhelmed with grief."
— Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.