Sunday, July 4, 2021

Driver Strikes and Kills Marlene Moreno in Downtown Crosswalk

Driving a van late Friday afternoon, Paul Brogden III struck and killed Marlene Moreno as she attempted to cross Center Street in a crosswalk at the intersection with High Street downtown.

Southbound on High, turning left onto Center
Note person on foot entering crosswalk northbound

From Salem Police:

Just before 5 p.m. on July 2, 2021, a parking enforcement officer reported a crash involving a vehicle and a pedestrian at the intersection of High and Center STS NE.

The pedestrian was identified as Marlene Moreno, age 73 of Salem, was in the marked crosswalk traversing northbound across Center ST when she was struck by a van. Moreno sustained critical injuries and was transported to Salem Health where she later died.

The driver of the van, Paul Brogden III, age 44 of California, was making an eastbound turn from High ST onto Center ST. Brogden remained on the scene and cooperated with officers conducting the initial investigation.

The Salem Police Traffic Team is completing the crash investigation. Anyone who may have witnessed the incident can contact the team at 503-588-6293.

The paper's first story online reproduces the passive voice and erasure of the driver in the press release: "A woman was crossing on Center Street at High Street at about 5 p.m., according to Salem Police, when she was struck by a van."

A different story shows it doesn't have to be that way.

Saturday's paper on a different situation

It was interesting to note in Saturday's paper a story about a different case that they avoided the euphemism of "officer involved shooting," but still erased the driver: Subject and active verb in "Salem police shot," but driver erased in "the vehicle fled."

The police press release, in fact, was titled "Officer Involved Shooting in Polk County." 

So we know that journalists at the paper are exercising judgement and not always just churning press releases from police with little revision. 

Still too often they take the traffic crash incident language too closely, do not revise it, and reproduce ways we erase the drivers and insulate them from criticism, fault, and the fact that even lawful driving employs potentially lethal speed and power.

On erasing the driver - 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:
Just a couple weeks ago

Killed in 2021

Killed in 2020
Killed in 2019
Killed in 2018
Killed in 2017
Killed in 2016:
Killed in 2015:
This post may be updated.


Anonymous said...

I find it surprising that there is no Walk/Don't Walk signal at the crosswalk. I also wonder whether a "no left turn on red" freestanding sign coupled with a small sign attached to the traffic signal is in order. Even though that movement is legal I assume that in certain situations it can be curtailed. This might be one of those situations and the recent incident will surely bring the intersection to the attention of Public Works.

As to identifying the driver, I am not sure that the potential benefits of creating the fear that a driver would be identified in a case like this would make anyone safer. If the driver acted negligently, as seems likely, then he should be held accountable. Most likely he feels horrible about the loss of life and that will be a punishment that never goes away.

Another pedestrian accident that I am familiar with lacked public identification of the driver (as far as I could tell) but the more disturbing aspect in that case was the lack of reporting on the way it happened and how road design may have played a part.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Anon, the police report disclosed the name of the driver. That is customary. "Erasing the driver" is about the grammatical function of ascribing agency to the car, whose driver is later named as if they were only peripherally involved. It is a way to make driving more innocent so we do not blame drivers when there is no extraordinary negligence - the rhetoric of "accident" - even when they are the ones employing lethal speed and force, and are responsible for the safe operation of a motor vehicle.