Woman remembered as nurse, mom, Army vet
A White City woman suddenly killed during July 4 festivities at a beachfront RV park on the Southern Oregon coast was a mother, a North Medford High School graduate, an Army veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and a nurse for the Veterans Administration.
Those details about 38-year-old Hiedei Bailey were shared Tuesday by her father, David Bailey, after the woman was killed Monday by a van that struck her and several others in Curry County.
Attempts by Bailey’s sister to revive her — as Hiedei’s 11-year-old daughter played on the beach — were unsuccessful. Bailey’s was the only death resulting from the accident.
“She was having a great time with her daughter there,” said David Bailey. “She knew it was going to rain, and she was packing up to go to a hotel and she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
He added, “Right now, I am trying to digest it all.”
The chaotic scene ensued at about 2:23 p.m. Monday, the Curry County Sheriff’s Office reported. The vehicle, described as a large van, destroyed several camping items and picnic tables, along with two RVs and passenger cars.
Two children were inside an RV when the van struck theirs, but they were uninjured, police said. A 79-year-old California woman was injured, as was another White City resident, Rebecca Williams, 46. The sheriff’s office declined to state Williams’ condition Tuesday, citing privacy laws.
Police identified the driver of the van as Brookings resident Paul Armenta, who “appeared he was passed out behind the wheel” moments before the crash, witnesses said. The man was transported to Curry General Hospital for a “24-hour observation” due to a “possible head injury,” Curry County Sheriff John Ward said Tuesday. A toxicology report ruled out alcohol in Armenta’s system at the time of the crash.
“We turned it over to the (district attorney), and he’s kind of guiding us as to how he wants to go forward,” Ward said. “I can’t tell you any more than that because it’s under investigation.”
Curry County District Attorney Joshua Spansail did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
A search of online Oregon court records system turned up no previous arrests for Armenta.
Hiedei Bailey was one of three children, one of whom preceded her in death, said her father, who lives locally.
“She liked to have parties and forgot about schoolwork,” David Bailey said. “She didn’t know what she was going to do with her life and then decided to join the Army. She knew she ... could join the Army, get out, get some college and have a good life. That’s what she did.”
Bailey served for approximately four years, mostly as an intelligence officer who was sworn to secrecy. But, according to her father, she won a commendation from the service branch for protecting an Afghan girl during a terrorist attack.
“The family’s wiped out, except for the little girl,” David said, his voice breaking. “My daughter didn’t think (about it); she jumped in the car and grabbed the little girl out and saved her.”
After tours of both Afghanistan and Iraq, Bailey came home, had her daughter and pursued nursing.
“She looked around for a couple months and said, ‘Well, nursing sounds like a good thing. People will always need medical help, and I can make a good career out of that,’” her father said. “I think she liked the job at the VA more than when she worked at a cancer center for a while. The VA gave her a lot of time off. She wanted … to be able to enjoy life, and they gave her time to do that.”
Bailey’s father described her as someone who was “very outgoing” and “had a ton of friends.” Tributes from them began to come through on Facebook Tuesday afternoon.
“The world lost a beautiful soul yesterday. I’m at a loss for words. Why God takes the good ones is beyond my understanding,” wrote Kayla Leonardo in a post linking to Bailey’s own profile and a story about her death.
Another friend, Lacy White, spoke of Bailey’s love of the outdoors, which her father confirmed.
“Last week, you were so excited to go camping,” White wrote. “Heart of gold, open arms to anyone, a smile that was infectious to anyone.”
A GoFundMe page (https://rb.gy/lj5i4s) has since been established to help Bailey’s family with any costs associated with her death.
That link is in addition to a GoFundMe page dedicated to the needs of Rebecca Williams (https://rb.gy/ganp5z).
Reach reporter Kevin Opsahl at 541-776-4476 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @KevJourno.