Real Estate

Portland man who jumped from I-84 overpass after crash was realtor fighting mental illness

Alex Michael Herrera

A Portland man struck and killed by a car after he jumped from an Interstate 84 overpass in Morrow County was an ambitious young realtor who also struggled with bouts of mental illness, his family and co-workers said.

Alex Michael Herrera, 28, had fled a minor fender-bender last week near Boardman moments before his death, said Oregon State Police. The car that struck Herrera kept driving and remains unidentified, said Lt. Cari Boyd, a state police spokeswoman.

Authorities are investigating the fatality as a suspected hit-and-run, Boyd said, though it remains unclear whether the impact from the fall or the car caused Herrera’s death.

“He was a good-hearted human being with a sensitivity for those less fortunate,” Herrera’s mother, Adrianna Kenney, said in an email. “He had a capacity for solving problems like I have never seen.”

But her son also suffered from mental health problems most of his life, said Kenney, a dentist in Southern California. “That was his daily struggle,” she said.

Herrera made local headlines in 2013 when authorities said he tried to open the door on an Alaskan Airlines flight traveling to Portland. He told police at the time he was bipolar and had been hearing voices for days.

After he was sentenced to three years of probation, Herrera became a licensed real estate broker and sold homes in the metro area. In March, he joined MORE Reality, where colleagues quickly found him to be a positive, upbeat addition.

“Alex was engaging and funny,” said Paul Knighton. “He was outgoing and bubbly.”

But over the summer, Knighton said his new colleague began to act noticeably different. Herrera slowly grew detached from co-workers. He rarely returned phone calls.

Eventually, Herrera fell off the grid altogether, Knighton said.

“The last couple of weeks we were very worried about him,” Knighton said.

On Nov. 9, state troopers responded to reports of a minor collision between Herrera’s gold Ford Ranger and a white commercial vehicle on the off-ramp near milepost 158 — three hours east of Portland — about 3:05 a.m., police said.

After the accident, Herrera hopped out of his car and sprinted away, the other driver told authorities.

Investigators believe Herrera then ran toward the nearby overpass, scaled the fence and jumped. An eastbound car hit him, police said. Troopers found Herrera’s lifeless body about 130 feet from the overpass.

Police believe the vehicle that struck Herrera may have had dark gray metallic paint. Anyone with information is asked to call 541-276-2121.

Portland gained more residents than any other Oregon city from 2016 to 2017, and its population now stands at 639,100.

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