Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Driver Strikes and Kills Marshall Leslie on Foot near Downtown Safeway

In his Cadillac SUV, and possibly suffering what Salem Police are calling a "medical issue," Willie Dempsey struck and killed Marshall Leslie on foot while in a crosswalk on Center Street at 12th Street near the downtown Safeway this afternoon.

The Evolving Story and Erasing the Driver

The initial and very brief notice by Salem PD, with a neutral "x vs. y collision" formula:
Due to a fatal pedestrian vs vehicle collision Center St NE will be closed from Capitol St NE to 14th ST NE. 12th ST NE will be closed to both N/B and S/B traffic between Marion ST NE and Chemeketa ST NE.
The SJ revised this in the first draft for the passive voice with the "a pedestrian was struck" formula:
A fatal pedestrian vs. vehicle crash near downtown Salem has prompted closure of several streets, police said. A pedestrian was struck on Center Street near the Safeway grocery store and died on scene.
In the Wednesday paper (second revision)
In the SJ's third revision online, made after the print deadline, they write about a person driving:
A pedestrian was struck on Center Street NE near the Safeway grocery store and died on scene, according to police....

A driver in a Cadillac SRX was heading eastbound on Center Street and hit the pedestrian in the "crosswalk area" of 12th Street, said Lt. Treven Upkes of Salem Police.
By contrast, Salem Reporter's early version (not sure if it was the very first) has a sentence with the active voice:
A driver hit a pedestrian walking near Center Street Tuesday afternoon and police said the pedestrian died.
Salem Reporter's second story on Wednesday the 12th, after the Police released the identifications, is similarly accurate:
A Salem man ran a red light on Center Street Northwest Tuesday afternoon before hitting and killing a pedestrian crossing the street, police said.
All of these early stories struggle with humanizing the dead and the SJ's with erasing the driver.

The SJ's coverage gives "quasi-autonomy" to the car (notes added)
But there is now a critique of this from within journalism, not just by advocates. See this note for more on active/passive voice, the word "pedestrian," and the habit of erasing the driver.

via Twitter

Columbia Journalism Review
Update, midday, June 12th

Midday on Wednesday, Salem PD issued an update:
On June 11, 2019, at approximately 2:45 p.m. a pedestrian was fatally struck while crossing Center ST NE at 12th ST NE. The pedestrian, Marshall Leslie age 27 of Wilsonville, was in the crosswalk when he was struck by an eastbound Cadillac SUV that ran the red light at 12th ST NE. Leslie was pronounced deceased at the scene.

The driver of the Cadillac, Willie Dempsey age 35 of Salem, remained on scene and was eventually transported to Salem Health for an evaluation.

The initial investigation indicates Dempsey may have been experiencing a medical issue at the time of the collision.

This is an ongoing investigation, and as such no citations or arrests have been made.
The SJ is still struggling with the passive voice, but Salem Reporter uses active verbs and has the better story. The technical term "pedestrian" still operates to dehumanize and other the people on foot who have been killed.

This post will be updated.

Previous Deaths on Foot

This appears to be the first walking fatality in 2019.

We say "troubling"
but really, how troubled are we?
Previously killed in 2018
Killed in 2017
Killed in 2016:
Killed in 2015:


Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

updated with comments on the story in print and further revision online. Police have not yet identified the driver or victim.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

updated with revised release from Salem PD

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Updated and rewritten with second release from Salem PD identifying the driver and dead