Thursday, February 13, 2020

Driver Struck and Killed Sharon Pritchard on River Road N Tuesday Evening

A driver struck and killed a person on foot in Keizer on Tuesday night.

The first version in print
 From a second version online:
Sharon Rene Pritchard, 52, died after being hit about 10 p.m.

Police were called to the 5000 block of River Road North on a report of a crash involving a pedestrian, according to Keizer Police.

An initial investigation found the driver of a Ford Edge SUV traveling south on River Road struck Pritchard in the roadway. Pritchard was from the Salem/Keizer area.

Officials say Pritchard was in the vehicle lane of travel and not in a crosswalk when she was struck.

The driver remained at the scene and is cooperating with investigators. Officials have not issued any criminal citations.
The framing from police is already at pains to absolve the driver and to blame the victim, who was "not in a crosswalk" and since they were out at night were doubtless committing the informal offense of improper walking.

Never mind that River Road is designed for lethal auto speed. It's five car lanes wide and signalized crosswalks are infrequently spaced. Lighting could be an issue also.

On this section of River Road, drivers have also killed Jaren Nash (2016), Anthony Ernest (2016), and Daniel Tibbot (2018). There are clearly structural problems here.

(The article mostly identifies a "driver" as the agent, though it does use some passive voice with the "after being struck by" formula. But then it turns to active voice when it says "the driver of a...SUV...struck Pritchard." On balance it is not very objectionable in language.)

Update, Sunday the 16th

For the online version an editor has apparently gone in to swap out "driver" and replace it with car for a "hit by car" formula. It's a literal instance of erasing the driver. The weekly SJ news recap video also uses the passive voice and robot car. "Struck and killed" has also been cut down to "struck," as if to suggest the death is an accidental consequence and not a primary result of the striking. It's interesting all this occurs in a later revision rather than first draft, and shows erasing the driver to be very deliberate rather than the result of habit and formula.

As of Sunday the 16th, "hit by car" has been inserted
This post may be be updated.

We say "troubling"
but really, how troubled are we?
Killed in 2020

Killed in 2019
Killed in 2018
Killed in 2017
Killed in 2016:
Killed in 2015:
Columbia Journalism Review
For more discussion of language see these recent examples:
For more on the cultural and legal context of our autoism in which we minimize the responsibility of drivers and shift blame to people on foot, see:

1 comment:

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Usually "hit by car" has been a habit and formula used in cranking out the first versions of a crash story. Here an editor has gone in to revise a "struck by a driver" to "struck by a car." They've also cut down "struck and killed" to just "struck." These choices are deliberate, then, not merely formula written out of habit.