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.
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
- Unknown person (I-5 and Market Street interchange)
- Rachel Bunting (while operating a bus for Cherriots)
- Blake Saville (on bike)
- Christian Kennedy (on Silverton Road)
- Galina Dvorskaya (south Commercial)
- Marlene Moreno (downtown crosswalk)
- Becky Dietzel (on North River Road)
- Unknown person (on Church St downtown)
- Jaime Le Ann Hall (on skateboard)
- Sharon Pritchard
- Mario Lopez-Lopez (walking a bike)
- Unknown person via SJ (on I-5 near Market St)
- Andrew Otho Polston (biking on Windsor Island Road)
- Jolene Braasch Berry (on bike)
- Richardo Morales Avila (in McMinnville)
- Octavious Calloway (on I-5 near Market St)
- Selma Pierce
- Hermilo Mata Jr.
- Unknown person (on mobility scooter)
- Marshall Leslie
- Linda Adamson (south Salem) and Stephanie Ashford (just outside Salem)
- Jason Libel (on bike)
- Josephine Watkins
- Rodric Kenyon Drolshagen
- Olivia Stroup
- Jaren Nash
- Alex Armes
- Anthony Earnest
- Baxter Harrell
- Unknown (just outside Salem)
- Bradley Goad (in Silverton)
- James Alton
- Caroline Storm
- William Hatch
- Travis Lane
- David McGregor
- Michael and Christine Crossland
- Rebecca Schoff
- "Why so much Acceptance for Traffic Cone Theory of Walking?" with discussion of a Salem Police PSA (2015)
- Notes on a City of Salem PSA this month, "City PSA on Time Change and Safety Needs Paradigm Change Itself." It has many links to the history of jaywalking also. (2019)
- On "distracted walking," "Death on Foot: Too Much on Distracted Walking Canard." (2018)
- "Why Pedestrian Rights themselves may not be Sufficient." (2015)
- Two discussions of a law review article about our system of subsidy for autoism, "The Laws for Compulsory Autoism at The Atlantic," and "Police Publish Video on How to Speed Without a Ticket." (both 2019)