Medford father of 3 killed in freeway hit and run
A Medford man was struck and killed Monday morning on Interstate 5 near Red Bluff, California, during the long drive home from the funeral of his father only days before.
Zachary D. Mitchell was trading seats with his partner, Lacey Mobley, after driving the first 10 hours of the trip home to Southern Oregon from Apple Valley, California.
Mobley was putting on her shoes and getting ready to walk around the couple’s car when Mitchell was hit by a 2014 Toyota Prius driven by a 55-year-old man from The Dalles. His body was thrown, Mobley said, and the couple’s three children witnessed the horrifying scene.
California Highway Patrol officers said Mitchell, 34, had pulled onto the right shoulder of northbound I-5 around 4:45 a.m. before the Prius, heading north, struck and killed him.
Mitchell was standing on the east shoulder of the road when he was hit and died almost instantly.
“I held him until they got there, but he was dead on impact. They had to pull me off him,” Mobley said Tuesday in a message to the Mail Tribune.
Compounding heartbreak for the family, Mitchell’s father had recently died, and the family had driven all night after attending the weekend funeral services.
Mobley said Mitchell moved to Oregon seven years ago to be with their family. The couple celebrated their birthdays together every year: Mobley on Feb. 24 and Mitchell on Feb. 25.
Mobley said Mitchell worked in the automotive industry for a handful of years but had switched to the food service industry and was a skilled chef.
The couple shared three children: 15-year-old Landon Mobley, 8-year-old Teagan Mobley and 5-year-old Paizley Mitchell.
“I brought him here from California. We lived here seven years together,” said Mobley, noting both she and Mitchell originally are from California.
“He had been driving 10 hours already. We had three left, and he was standing by the door so I could get my shoes on, and he was smoking a cigarette and a car hit him while he was standing there. He flew, and there was a lot of blood. It was horrible. It was a hit and run, but they did catch (the driver),” Mobley added.
“He was an amazing person, kindhearted and such a great dad; I can’t live without him.”
Services for Mitchell had not been discussed as of Tuesday.
Friends and family set up a GoFundMe campaign to help Mobley cover final expenses and make ends meet while grieving her loss. As Mitchell was the primary income for the household, immediate needs will include funds to cover household bills, meals and to provide counseling for the three kids.