FOREST GROVE, Ore. -- April Hieter lost her high school sweetheart when Joshua Hieter died trying to help the victims of a traffic accident last week just south of Forest Grove.
She also lost her husband and best friend of 16 years.
"It's not the first time time he's stopped and helped somebody," she said.
The couple took their three-year-old son Wyatt to the beach two weekends ago, indulging in what the boy wanted to do. "That was a really happy day for us."
"He was an excellent dad," she said. "He loved his son. His son was everything to him."
And now, April Hieter said of what's ahead, "I have to be strong for him."
Hieter, 31, was killed while trying to help others involved in an accident on Old Hwy 47, just south of Forest Grove Friday morning, according to first responders.
Hieter had stopped to assist victims in a "very bad accident" involving two vehicles and eight people, when another vehicle struck him, according to Dave Nemeyer with Forest Grove Fire & Rescue.
In the small town of Gaston where he was raised, friends gathered at the local watering hole Friday to remember their friend. Josh had a heart of gold and when someone needed him, he was a phone call away.
"It's a huge loss ... I live a quarter mile away from him," friend Harold Long said. "He died today helping people out."
"This winter I had no water so I called Joshie and I said 'can you help because I have no water," friend Becky Tuning said. "He didn't hesitate. He came in the freezing cold to fix my pipe."
Photos: TV Hwy crash
“It was a pretty serious crash and folks were getting out to help,” Nemeyer said. “This highway is crazy busy and the intersection is really busy, too.”
First responders found the Hieter lying in the road and it appeared that he had been killed instantly, Nemeyer said.
“It's tough, any time you stop to render aid, it's just so dangerous... he did a great job turning his vehicle, he pulled onto the shoulder, turned on his hazard lights, he did everything you should, but unfortunately this was the outcome,” added Dave Thompson with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.
The initial crash, at the intersection of Old Hwy 47 and SW B St., involved a small sedan and a pickup truck towing a recreational trailer. Nemeyer said five people were injured and three others survived without any injuries.
State troopers closed the highway and a crash scene reconstruction team was investigating. Authorities said the highway was closed in both directions at the busy intersection, which would likely remain closed for some time. Check: Traffic updates
Two victims were taken to Legacy Emanuel Hospital and three others were taken to Oregon Health and Science University. Authorities have not elaborated on the extent of their injuries.
(KGW Reporters Anne Yeager and Katherine Cook contributed to this report)