La Pine rallies to help family hit by string of tragedies

Arizona crash claims mother, son; aid sought to reunite

La Pine man hit by double tragedy

LA PINE, Ore. - UPDATE: The remains of Janice Hickman and Amoz Hickman arrived in La Pine this morning.  Janice's husband Greg, son Axcyl Hickman and his wife Ellie transported the bodies from Flagstaff, Arizona.

A barbecue fundraiser and dessert auction for the Hickman family will take place this Wednesday, the 25th, at 5 PM the La Pine Community Park.  A Zumbathon fundraiser will follow at 6 PM at the Fit Zone in La Pine.  The evening will conclude with a candlelight vigil at the Community Park.

When a family suffers a major loss, it takes a team effort to overcome that pain.

But for the Hickman family, with roots in La Pine, loss has been far too easy to come by in recent days.

The struggles began a month ago, with the Hickman family in Arizona.  Daughter-in-law Ellie Hickman and her husband, Axcyl Hickman, were living in Flagstaff with youngest brother Amoz and eldest brother Audleigh.  The three brothers were working for a welding company.

"It was the best time we ever had together, us three," Audleigh said Thursday from his home in Bend.

However, times changed suddenly for the Hickman family.  After a visit to a chiropractor and a trip to the hospital, 20-year-old Ellie Hickman was diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin's Lymphoma. 

Following the diagnosis, Janice Hickman, the mother of the three brothers and daughter Andrea Hickman, flew from Oregon to Flagstaff, roughly 1,100 miles away.

"My mom wanted to help with the moving process, chemotherapy and the kids," Audleigh said.

Janice and Amoz planned to help Axcyl and Ellie drive back to their home in the southern Oregon town of Sutherlin.  But as soon as the trip began, tragedy struck yet again.

Amoz Hickman was driving the family Ford Explorer with Janice when his tire blew out.  The investigation of the crash is ongoing, but the Arizona Daily Sun reported that Amoz and Janice were not wearing seatbelts.    

Amoz Hickman was pronounced dead at the scene.  He was 20 years old. 

Amoz's mother Janice was released from the hospital that evening.  However, once her husband, Greg Hickman, arrived in Flagstaff after driving from Sutherlin, she was brought back to the hospital and diagnosed with cracked vertebrae. 

She was given a neck brace, and the family decided to hold off on further treatment until they returned to Sutherlin.

However, on Wednesday night, tragedy struck the Hickman family once more.  Greg Hickman went for a walk in Flagstaff while Janice slept.  When Greg returned, he was unable to wake his wife. 

"He performed CPR on her, Axcyl performed CPR on her, and did so until the ambulance arrived." Audleigh said.

But 40 minutes after paramedics arrived, Janice Hickman was pronounced dead. The cause of death is believed to be related to the car crash.  She was 53.

Now, father Greg Hickman, Axcyl Hickman and wife Ellie must bring Janice and Amoz home.

Meanwhile, Audliegh, who left Arizona prior to Ellie's diagnosis, must wait.

"As soon as my brother and my mom get back here, and I can see my mom and my brother, and give Axcyl and his wife a hug, and see the kids, we can get this figured out," he said.

However, help is coming from a caring community.

Prior to moving to Sutherlin, the Hickman family lived in La Pine for 25 years.  The town of fewer than 2,000 people holds onto its roots, and remembers those who grew up there. 

"The Hickmans are very well known here -- this was their home for many years," said La Pine resident Genevieve McCall. "They were a part of the church community, and were at every school function."

Genevieve started the Hickman Family Donation Fund at Washington Federal Bank to provide funding towards the Hickmans' return to Central Oregon and funeral arrangements. 

Another online donation towards the cause was created to provide funding towards the Hickman's return to Central Oregon and funeral arrangements.  Donations can be made online, or through any Washington Federal Bank or via the phone at 541-536-9232. 

More information on the Hickmans, including plans for a wake, candlelight vigil and fundraisers towards the cause, will be reported once the family has reunited.  

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