Driver From Fatal Christmas Day Crash in Jail on Manslaughter

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The driver involved in a Christmas Day crash near Hermiston that resulted in the death of a 10-year-old boy now is in the Umatilla County Jail.

The Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday, March 20, arrested Raileen Erin Cook, 23, on a warrant for second-degree manslaughter, six counts of third-degree assault, three counts of reckless endangering and one count each of reckless driving and driving under the influence of intoxicants (alcohol).

Sheriff’s Capt. Paul Wolverton said the investigation into that crash has been ongoing, and the arrest was the result of a warrant based on a grand jury indictment. He said the arrest took place at a Hermiston residence of a family member of Cook.

The jail’s online roster shows the sheriff’s office booked her in at 11:20 a.m.

State court records show Cook has criminal convictions in 2023 in Umatilla County for DUII and in Morrow County for fourth-degree assault constituting domestic violence.

Emergency agencies on Dec. 25, 2023, responded to a three-vehicle crash on Umatilla River Road near Cooney Lane outside Hermiston. According to the sheriff’s office at the time, a southbound 2008 Honda Accord collided with a northbound 1998 Honda Civic. The impact was substantial and led to a northbound 2005 Pontiac striking the Civic while attempting to avoid the Accord.

Cook was the driver of the Accord. Her sons, ages 3 and 5, also were in the car. All three suffered injuries.

Brittni Mendoza, 24, of Hermiston, was driving the Civic and had four passengers: her daughter, 19 months; Mendoza’s sister, Jennika Mendoza, 25, of Hermiston; and her daughter, 6, and son, Anthony, 10.

All occupants suffered significant injuries. Despite receiving medical care at Legacy Randall’s Hospital for Children in Portland, Anthony succumbed to his injuries Dec. 30.

Misti Whibeck, 47, also of Hermiston, was driving the Pontiac. She was the only occupant. Police questioned and released her at the scene, with no reported injuries at the time.

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