Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Lancaster is still Deadly: Two Dead, Hit-and-Runs and Might-makes-Right

One word: Stroad. Stroads are mixed-up hybrids, neither fish nor fowl, neither street nor road. They are roads built for higher speeds and high through-put, but with tons of intersections, drive-ways, and turning movements like a neighborhood and local street. With sidewalks and crosswalks and bike lanes, they look like places for walking and biking.  But they are dangerous and unpleasant.  And in attempting to be a generalist, they end up doing nothing well and being dangerous instead.  Lancaster is a stroad.

Even more than this, a stroad like Lancaster is designed for failure. The engineering details make it more likely for a person on foot to be in someplace where a driver doesn't expect them.  These details and posted speeds encourage higher speeds and autoist expectations for people on foot to stay out of the way because cars rule the road.

Stroads are terrible and they kill people.

In the last two weeks there have been too many crashes involving people on foot.  Each crash is different, and in not every case is the person on foot blameless and the driver solely to blame.  But in all cases, the road design makes it more likely that a mistake, sometimes small, by driver or walker, will cascade to catastrophe.  There's a pattern of crashes here.

Hit and Run is a Felony, Remember?  And people on foot
do have the right-of-way in marked and unmarked crosswalks
Four recent crashes, including a fatality last night, on Lancaster and nearby should remind the City and County that it's almost certainly the worst roadway in the Salem area.

From the paper two weeks ago:
A Salem teenager was sent to the hospital with serious injuries Friday night after she was struck by a vehicle that fled the scene. It was the second hit-and-run to injure a pedestrian on Lancaster Drive in as many days.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office said the incident occurred about 7:45 p.m. at Durbin Avenue and Lancaster Drive SE.

Sheriff’s spokesman Don Thomson said deputies received reports that a pickup traveling northbound on Lancaster Drive SE struck Kathryn Staudinger, 14, of Salem, as she was crossing the street with a friend. The friend was able to avoid being hit.

Staudinger was taken to Salem Hospital and then transferred to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland.

Thomson said witnesses told deputies that the truck appeared to accelerate to beat a traffic light at the intersection. They also said the girls were in the crosswalk and had a walk signal.

Thomson described the truck as a 1980s model Ford F150. Witnesses described its color as either light brown, tan or rusty. It had been lifted and had loud exhaust pipes and should have right front damage.
A week ago Tuesday on another stroad, Market street:
A 6-year-old boy was shaken but appeared unharmed after being hit by a car at the intersection of Market Street and Savage Road NE around 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

Jesus Mendoza, 6, was crossing the street with his family when he darted out ahead of the group to race another child who was with the family, said Nallely Mendoza, Jesus’ mother.

Jesus was not taken to the hospital, but his mother said she plans on having him checked out by a doctor.

The family had the crosswalk signal and the driver, who was making a right turn, had a green light. Police said the right front corner of the car struck the boy as it made a right turn onto Market Street.

Police said the driver would be cited for failure to yield the right of way to a pedestrian.

“We’re always walking and people never seem to obey the law or watch the crosswalks,” Mendoza said. “People don’t seem to care.”

On Friday, a 14-year-old girl—who also had a walk signal while crossing Lancaster Drive SE—was struck by a truck that fled the scene of the accident. Kathryn Staudinger is still recovering at Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland.
Last Wednesday:
Salem police have arrested a man they believe drove the car that struck and killed an owner of the Lucky Fortune restaurant [on Lancaster] on Valentine’s Day.

Officers surrounded a home in the 500 block of 22nd Street SE around 3:45 a.m. today and police said they arrested Brandon Paine-Smith, 26, of Salem, without incident.

Officers also arrested Kimberly Doan, 46—who is a resident of the 22nd Street home—on a charge of hindering prosecution.

A red 2007 Ford Focus struck Tom Cheung, 37, and his mother, Kow Lan Cheung-Lin, 68, in the restaurant parking lot around 11 p.m. on Feb. 14. The vehicle then sped away. Cheung sustain minor injuries but Cheing-Lin was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Paine-Smith faces charges of manslaughter, assault, failure to perform the duties of driver to injured persons and a parole violation. Paine-Smith was convicted of possession of methamphetamine in July. He is being held at the Marion County Correctional Facility.

Police are stilling looking for Kayla Jo Holden, 20, who they believe was in the car with Paine-Smith at the time of the accident.
And Monday:
A fatal crash involving a minivan and a pedestrian has closed traffic in both directions on Lancaster Drive NE between Wolverine Street NE and Beverly Avenue NE.

Salem Police Sgt. Tony Moore said that a woman driving southbound on Lancaster struck a man who was walking [now said to be already lying down in the roadway, perhaps unconscious or having a medical emergency] on the road but not inside of a crosswalk around 7 p.m.

Moore said the woman was cooperative with investigators and speed is not suspected to be a contributing factor in the crash.

Lancaster will likely remain closed for several hours as officials complete their investigation.

The story will be updated as it develops.
(Writing news pieces on deadline isn't easy, but a hit-and-run isn't an "accident." Also, drivers, not vehicles, "speed away."  We don't have autonomous vehicles yet that might speed away on their own.)


Anonymous said...

From an update in the Oregonian on the latest fatality:

"Richard Russell Dunsmore, a transient, was wearing dark clothing and lying on the roadway in the 2500 block of Lancaster Drive Northeast when he was struck by a [person driving a] 1999 gray Dodge Caravan, Salem police said. He died at the scene."

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Thanks for the Oregonian update!

Additional reader comments at the SJ:

#1 "The witness interview on television said that he walked into the street and fell, and they couldn't get there to help him before cars were already upon him. I have NO idea if the victim was under the influence or what the situation there was."

#2 "Is it possible that he had been struck by another car previously? Hit and run? Lots of unanswered questions."

#3 [and likely witness] "I have a feeling he did. Because of where the two places he was bleeding from, just getting hit once couldn't cause all that blood."