Monday, November 5, 2018

Drivers Strike and Kill Alexandria Tereshka on OR-22 in West Salem

Two people driving on Highway 22 in West Salem struck and killed Alexandria Tereshka on the roadway on Saturday evening. (Updated with names and drivers in the plural.)

As too often happens, the news erases the driver and makes the the dead person into an abstraction: "A female pedestrian died Saturday after being struck by a vehicle..."

via Twitter

Columbia Journalism Review
The crash may be similar to ones on Highway 22 in 2013 and in 2016. Little follow-up was published on these deaths, and it seemed likely the dead had been camping along the river. Even I-5 in East Salem has more crossings than OR-22 here, and the highway in West Salem is a huge barrier to the river. Lacking a house or apartment, the dead also lacked story, presence, and importance in our world, and they were made nameless in accounts of their demise.

So there may be two erasures here: The erasure of drivers, responsible for the safe operation of a vehicle, even on a highway; and the erasure of an unhoused person with their own history and story.

A few years ago, a front page story professed to express the "troubling" nature of people killed while walking.

We say "troubling"
but really, how troubled are we?
But as long as we keep writing stories with autoist framing like this, "A female pedestrian died Saturday after being struck by a vehicle," we reinforce the current "troubling" conditions, and do not point to any remedy. We also reinforce notions that the dead were walking improperly, or even making poor life choices, and therefore deserved to die. All this suggests in the end that our concern was not so troubled after all.

Update, late afternoon

Even while the police update still ascribes agency to "vehicles" rather than to drivers, it also shows how our category of "pedestrian" is woefully inadequate to what they conclude likely happened.

From Salem PD:
The woman who was killed in a motor vehicle crash on November 3, 2018 at approximately 9:15 p.m.. has been identified as Alexandria Tereshka, age 27 of Dallas. Based on evidence at the scene and the statements of the involved drivers, police believe that Tereshka was lying in the westbound lanes of Highway 22W near the Wallace Rd NW exit when she was struck by two vehicles. The drivers of those vehicles, Massah Morris, age 20 of Salem and Lori Goree, age 60 of Salem, both stayed on scene and cooperated with the investigation. Neither driver was impaired and no criminal charges are expected to be filed.
This post will be updated.

Killed in 2018

Killed in 2017
Killed in 2016:
Killed in 2015:


Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

(Updated with names.)

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Salem Reporter has an update on Alexandria Tereshka, "Rebellious and tormented, she was a 'heartbreaking' challenge for Oregon's strained system: Time after time, Alexandria Tereshka turned to public services for help with her mental health and addiction issues. She made one more appointment. She never made it."

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

And a meta-commentary and personal follow-up on the update, "Pursuing the truth, for better or worse:
Alexandria Tereshka's story was heartbreaking from the outset. As reporting uncovered more and more wrenching layers, publishing the article only became harder."

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Salem Reporter returns to Tereshka with a cooperatively produced documentary:

"For Polk County District Attorney Aaron Felton, 27-year-old Alexandria Tereshka was a reminder of the limits of Oregon's criminal justice system to help people struggling with addiction. Felton considers her case in a new documentary released Wednesday, Feb. 3."