Mystery shrouds death of 7-year-old boy on Powellhurst-Gilbert residential street

Police confirm that the vehicle which killed the boy was driven by his 21-year-old sister; but officials say they’re still sorting out exactly what happened‚

Late into the evening investigators from city and county agencies work to figure out why a 7-year-old boy was killed on a residential street.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
This case starts with a 5:00 p.m. call to 9-1-1, reporting that there is a fatal collision between pedestrian and vehicle in the 2700 block of SE 153rd Avenue, about a block south of SE Division Street, on July 12th.

Soon, Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division Major Crash Team investigators, the bureau’s Homicide Division, and an investigator with the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office Child Abuse team try, with limited success, to unravel how and why a 7-year-old boy is dead.

“Upon arrival, officers found a deceased boy, 7-year-old Denis Onofreychuk, in the driveway of a residence,” reports police spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz. “Investigators believe the boy died after being hit by a car driven by his sister, 21-year-old Valentina Yarovenko.”

Initial statements by members of the family indicate that the collision occurred at, or near, the location where the child was found, says Schmautz. “Witness statements and physical evidence contradicted this information.”

At least one witness tells officers that the child was running next to, or perhaps hanging on, the car, as it was southbound on SE 153rd Avenue. Subsequent interviews with detectives, who use an interpreter for the interviews, help to bridge the perceived gap between the initial statements and the subsequent interviews.

On-scene, we attempt to interview several of the numerous people gathered nearby‚ but none of them will speak with us.

“At this time no one is in custody or being detained in connection with the investigation. An autopsy is scheduled, and detectives are continuing the investigation,” Schmautz adds.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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