Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Hailey man dies in rollover

Express Staff Writer

Michael Hinojosa

Michael "Mo" Hinojosa was a cat, his daughter Hayley, 16, said through bleary, red eyes. "This was his ninth life."

Hinojosa, 47, died after his truck rolled over three times on East Magic Road, south of Bellevue, Saturday, Aug. 5.

Blaine County Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Jay Davis said Hinojosa was westbound in a 2000 gray Ford F250 pickup when he "failed to negotiate a curve, left the roadway and rolled." He said it's not certain how fast Hinojosa was driving on the washboard-like gravel road.

Hinojosa is survived by his wife, Sara Shepardson, and his daughter. Hinojosa grew up intermittently in Gibbonsville, and Hailey, Idaho, one of three sons.

His mother, Anna Billger, who lives in Hailey, managed the Clarendon Hot Springs in Hailey where the family lived. She and her husband, Brad Billger, own Alpha Bravo Interiors in Hailey.

Hinojosa and his oldest brother, Rudy, both graduated from Wood River High School. "The brothers completed each other," Hayley said.

Hayley's mother, Cindy Hinojosa, said he adopted Hayley when she was 22 months old. The family lived temporarily in Portland before Hinojosa's love of the mountains drew them back to the Wood River Valley. He survived a severe motorcycle accident 13 years ago and had to relearn how to walk and talk. Along the way, Hinojosa made many friends. Everyone knew him, people have said. One of his good friends was Mark Fisher, who was also killed in an auto accident, earlier this summer. Hayley worked for Fisher at Mama Inez restaurant, but finds it hard to return now.

"He was my second dad," she said. "They were good friends. I know they're partying together now."

His youngest brother, Bob, said, "He was a wonderful father and a great brother, full of life."

Hinojosa owned US Builders, a general contractor firm based in Hailey. "He's been a carpenter in this valley his whole life," Hayley said. "He was a rodeo cowboy, motorcycle racer. He was so funny, and taught me so much. He was very protective. I called him Poppy and Poponino."

Hinojosa was diagnosed in 2005 with throat cancer. "I never thought it'd happen like this," Shepardson said. "He was such a fighter about the cancer. He was trying his hardest.

"He was my sweat pea, the love of my life," she added.

A memorial service is planned at their home at 10 Pioneer View Drive in Croy Canyon, near Hailey, at 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 12. Everyone is welcome.

An Education Fund for Hayley Hinojosa has been set up at U.S. Bank, in Robert and Mary Hinojosa's names.

Express staff writer Terry Smith contributed to this report.

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