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CENTRAL POINT, Ore. — Family members remember the man hit and killed by a car while crossing I-5 in Central Point on Thursday morning as a loving father who struggled with mental illness and substance abuse.
Investigators believe that 26-year-old Richard Drew Wilson of Eagle Point tried to cross the northbound lanes of I-5 near the Exit 33 interchange in Central Point around 6:15 a.m. on Thursday morning.
"Visibility in the area was limited by darkness and dense fog," said Oregon State Police (OSP).
Driving her Nissan Xterra northbound on I-5 and hampered by the conditions, 52-year-old Jeri Renee Wiggins struck Wilson in the northbound fast lane. The man was dead by the time emergency personnel arrived.
Those who knew Wilson — "Drew," as they knew him — say that they hope he is remembered as being an amazing father of two children with a smile that could instantly light up a room.
"Drew was an incredibly intelligent man. He could have been anything he wanted to be," said Lisa Flores, the mother of Wilson's children.
Wilson was fighting an uphill battle against mental illness and addiction. He'd recently been homeless, and had been unable to get the kind of support that he needed.
"There was no help, there was no help, and it's really said," said Toni Wilson, Drew's mother. "I had to take him all the way to Portland to get help, because there was no help in Southern Oregon."
Nonetheless, Toni hopes that when people think of her son, they remember his bright smile and contagious joy.
Toni said that she and her family are praying for the driver that hit her son — hoping that she can move on without guilt.
"I really do want her to know how absolutely sorry I am that she had to go through this too," Toni said.
Following the crash, I-5 northbound was reduced to a single lane of traffic for about three hours, OSP said. Northbound traffic saw some congestion and delays during that time.
Troopers were assisted by the Oregon Department of Transportation, Jackson County Fire District 3 and the Jackson County Sheriff's Office.