Saturday, August 28, 2021

Driver Strikes and Kills Person at 25th and Mission Early Thursday Morning

At one of Salem's most notorious and gigantic intersections, known to be dangerous and therefore one of the very first to get red light camera enforcement in February of 2008, a driver struck and killed a person in the street early in the morning on Thursday the 26th.

25th and Mission is a top 10 percentile
safety problem statewide

The brevity of the release from Police, as well as its language suggests there is more to the story, but also that Police may not feel any need to say more. The short release from Police is at once ambiguous and definite, the gaps troubling.

From Salem Police:

Salem, Ore. — Just before 2:00 a.m. this morning, August 26, 2021, patrol officers were dispatched to the report of a pedestrian struck by a vehicle at the intersection of 25th and Mission STS SE.

The preliminary investigation revealed a vehicle was traveling eastbound on Mission ST and struck a woman who unexpectedly entered the roadway. The pedestrian, identified as Aleta Pierre-Kelly, age 67, was transported to Salem Health where she was later pronounced deceased.

The driver, Kristen La Plume, age 48, remained on scene and cooperated with the investigation. No citations have been issued in this incident.

Even without direct language of blame, the release and its gaps imply the victim was to blame. Police appear to sympathize more with and to absolve the driver, saying that Pierre-Kelly "unexpectedly entered the roadway" and "no citations have been issued." They do not say any investigation is ongoing, or leave other open-endedness. Releases the same day of a crash and death are often less definite. As I read this release, Police are signalling that the matter is closed or near closed, and it is unlikely they will publish any updates.

Still, Pierre-Kelly is dead, cannot share her side of the story, and this frame may uncritically accept the perspective of the driver.

15% of drivers exceed 43 and 45mph here

There are still knowable things to consider here. There are real problems with the roadway design on this stretch of Mission Street, problems with the design speed and posted speed, and with speeding. It's a State highway and a very zoomy stroad. ODOT's OR 22 (East) Facility Plan (2017) showed speed is a problem all along the corridor (summary here).

ODOT also wants to exacerbate the problems, to enlarge the intersection further by adding a northbound, right-hand turn lane from westbound Mission Street. The crosswalk on the east side of the intersection is already closed for the dual left-hand turn lanes. In so many ways ODOT insists on a facility hostile to people on foot or on bike. There might be forgiveness for minor driver errors, but there is death or serious injury for minor walking errors. The stroad is engineered to be unforgiving and deadly for people on foot or on bike. Even in broad daylight the stroad is hazardous for those not in cars.

Another turn lane proposed (in green)

At the same time, there may be other problems. Our streets exist in a social history. It is possible that "unexpectedly entered the roadway" is a euphemism, not just taking the drivers' side in a calamitous encounter with an apparent "urban deer" at an hour when the implied perspective of the Police release is that no one should be out. Earlier this year a Cherriots driver appears to have foiled a suicide attempt nearby on Mission Street. You may also recall Salem Reporter going into more detail on Alexandria Tereshka's plight and decision to end her life. This month the City disrupted the encampments at Cascade Gateway, and there may be more disturbed people out and about at unusual hours.
via Twitter

It is not possible to say what "unexpectedly entered the roadway" means without more information. 

There is a lot of ambiguity here, and a wide range of possible interpretations for what actually happened. Fault could be one-sided. But both driver and walker could have made errors or catastrophic decisions; it does not have to be one or the other. Unfortunately the consequences are all too asymmetrical.

This post may be updated.

Back in 2015 we said "troubling"
but really, how troubled are we?

Killed in 2021

Killed in 2020
Killed in 2019
Killed in 2018
Killed in 2017
Killed in 2016:
Killed in 2015:
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:


Anonymous said...

The proposed right turn lane is very unlikely to make the intersection more dangerous because, as you stated, there is no N/S crosswalk on the east side of the intersection. Additionally, there is very little use of the 25th Street crosswalk on the north side of the intersection because there is virtually nothing located north on Mission and east of 25th within the immediate area.
A right turn lane would relieve back up and this intersection, which continues to use red light cams against the advice of ODOT, would be safer if westbound traffic is allowed to move more freely.
Nevertheless, I assume that the traffic data that was used to support the project does not take into account the fact that Costco will soon be moving to the Kuebler location. The decision to move forward could be based on data which will soon become outdated.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

A large hardware store was at one time, and may yet still be, planned for the northeast corner, so there will be more demand for the crosswalk.

You misunderstand, however, part of the problem. Oversized intersections and crossing distance suppress walking demand. One reason people don't attempt to cross the intersection is because it is already forbidding. Widening the intersection incrementally makes it even more forbidding and difficult.

More generally, moving traffic more freely is no longer something we should prioritize in our climate emergency.

(If you are Ken, and Ken is the only person who has been interested in arguing against the red light cameras here and appealing to a flawed ODOT study, please stop commenting anonymously. See the comment guidelines on "debating points." Thanks.)

Anonymous said...

Guilty as charged. I am indeed the notorious Ken. Now that I am outed, please tell me how to create a pseudonym. When I tried, my full name appeared on the Name/Url field so I backed off. As you are anonymous, I don't understand your actions in this regard.
I find it challenging to have a discussion with you but I have a moral obligation to counter some of your assertions because you may be influencing others who deserve a broader perspective and whose opinions can matter.
So, if you dare, please supply the info that I just requested. I only ask that you respect my need for anonymity. An apology for what you already did would be nice.
I think that you could benefit by a real discussion. I do request that you not eliminate my comments without just cause.
You are a True Believer but your obvious intellect provides brain space for some consideration for other opinions that may not be intended to be and should not be taken personally.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

The commenting box offers three choices:
- Google account
- Name/URL
- Anonymous.

Select Name/Url and in the name text box fill in a pseudonym. Please use it consistently here.

The problem is when multiple people are using anon, and trying to distinguish anon1, anon2, anon3, etc., breaks any conversation. By using a pseudonym it is possible to engage multiple comments on a single post, and also to reference comments in previous posts - things you will agree, I hope, are useful for a conversation or debate in good faith.

I'm cool with pseudonyms. Social media is generally a real erosion of privacy, and a pseudonym is a way to claim some of that back.

anothervoice said...

I am now officially "anothervoice".
I was educated by the most knowledgeable and experienced authorities in city and state government within the local area. Why would they teach me anything important about the way things work, you ask? I believe that it was a combination of my display of objectivity (during interactions related to the ownership of a commercial property) and the opportunity I presented to staff when they sought an opinion on a matter that was important enough to warrant bureaucratic attention but whose handling became ethically difficult for those who consider their responsibilities, first and foremost, to be about public welfare.
Anybody that thinks that transportation staff enjoy having their projects politicized are mistaken. I am fairly certain that a significant portion of them could have gotten positions within the private sector but their devotion to public service, a trait that was most likely the result of a bad upbringing, makes some of them wish that someone outside of the bureaucracy would at least say something.