Thursday, March 30, 2023

Person Biking on High Street at base of Gaiety Hill Dies from Crash

Tuesday a person operating a truck collided with Marganne Allen biking down High Street southbound at the intersection with Leslie Street. Allen later died from injuries sustained in the crash.

via Twitter

From Salem PD yesterday:

At approximately 3:45 p.m. on Tuesday, March 28, Salem Police patrol officers responded to the scene of a traffic collision involving a bicyclist and the driver of a pick-up truck at the intersection of Leslie and High STS SE.

The preliminary investigation by the Salem Police Traffic Team revealed the bicyclist was riding southbound on High ST approaching Leslie ST when the driver of the truck traveling eastbound on Leslie ST entered the intersection and crossed the bicyclist’s path of travel, resulting in a collision.

The bicyclist, 53-year-old Marganne Allen, suffered critical injuries and was transported to Salem Health where she later died.

The driver of the pick-up truck, Samuel Landis, age 37, was not injured. He remained on the scene and is cooperating with the investigation.

The intersection remained closed for approximately four hours as the incident was investigated, and the scene cleared.

No citations have been issued or arrest made as the Traffic Team investigation into the collision continues. No further information is available for release.

High Street is not stopped at the intersection, but Leslie Street is stopped, and on the surface it looks like Landis failed to yield and could also have misjudged Allen's rate of speed on the downhill section. Allen may have been unable to stop in time for a truck operator improperly in the intersection and t-boned the truck.

Leslie Street eastbound at High Street

The initial police tweet focused on Oak Street and a "pedestrian," neither of which turned out to be the most accurate descriptions.

via Twitter

The subsequent police release corrected these. It also did not mess around with saying whether Allen was wearing a helmet, and used active verbs and human subjects/agents in talking about "the driver of the truck traveling eastbound."

At Salem Reporter

Even with a "crash not accident" bill at the Legislature, Salem Reporter used "accident."

Today's paper

The paper mixed centering active verbs in the headline with passive voice in the lede.

Unfortunately, with a Police release that was decently written, as media revised it for publication they reintroduced problematic language.

Addendum, April 1st

Salem Police yesterday issued an update with a second release, and prospects for a thorough and impartial investigation seem to have dimmed.

The driver, Landis, is a special agent with the US Drug Enforcement Administration and was on duty at the time of the collision.

No Salem Police employees were present at the time of the crash; however, the two agencies have a long-established partnership through a task force. Due to those circumstances, the Salem Police Department has requested the Keizer Police Department lead the investigation.

As this case is ongoing, no other details are available for release at this time. Any further information will be issued by the Keizer Police Department.

The project for protected bike lanes, Salem Bike Vision, posted from an informal memorial site and vigil last night.

via Twitter

Addendum, April 4th

The paper today gives the transfer of investigation front page coverage.

Front page, April 4th

But the image, with Gaiety Hill in the background, is disconnected from anything we know now about directionalities in the crash. It may offer the best view of the memorial and be more picturesque, but does not illustrate much about the crash, the how of the story.

It might be premature to try to read the image very closely, but there is a gap between text and image. Allen was traveling southbound downhill; Landis was traveling eastbound. Photos at the crash site instead show northbound perspectives looking uphill. This choice also hides the stop signs on Leslie for Landis. These stop signs, implying right of way for Allen, should be more visible in coverage. More subtly, the uphill view may also direct attention to Allen's downhill trajectory as if braking was the primary matter and deflect focus away from Landis' decision to enter the intersection on a stop sign.

The paper's newish policy compounds the rhetoric of circumlocution in this and in previous stories.

Back in January of 2022 the paper announced:

It is the Statesman Journal's policy to withhold a suspect's name until they have been arraigned in court...We will continue to cover violent crimes and incidents that put the public at risk. But we will strive to add context to those — taking the time to tell the stories of the lives lost, analyze crime trends to provide an understanding of what is happening in our community, expose inequities in the system and hold law enforcement accountable for their words and actions.

Salem Reporter says Keizer PD won't announce anything until the investigation is completed.

Update, May 4th

This is effed up. It looks like something of a coverup. Salem Reporter has a new update in "Salem police gave evidence to DEA minutes after agent’s fatal collision with cyclist."

From the piece:

Records indicate that an undercover drug investigator arrived soon after [the crash]. The investigator was a Salem police officer assigned to the DEA’s Salem task force.

The undercover officer took 24 photos of the scene and texted them to his DEA supervisor. It couldn’t be established if he sent them before providing them to his own agency [ie, Salem PD and the traffic crash investigation]. The officer provided no explanation or commentary in the text transmission used to send the photos....

[Salem PD] said that the photos captured by the undercover Salem officer “were entered into evidence and made available to the investigating agency, the Keizer Police Department. Because the incident remains an active investigation, we cannot comment further.”

But the Keizer police were unaware that a Salem officer had sent crash scene photos to the DEA, according to Lt. Chris Nelson.

“You bringing that to our attention is the first time we’ve heard that,” he told Salem Reporter on Wednesday, May 3....

Court records as of Wednesday, May 3, show no record that [Landis] has been cited or charged in connection with Allen’s death.

Update, May 15th

Salem Reporter says Landis was speeding, likely going about 37 mph on a neighborhood street, and blew the stop sign. People are also refusing to speak on the record and fear Police retaliation. There is increasing evidence for an attempt at a coverup and a "blue wall of silence."

via Twitter

Minor update, June 5th: Salem Reporter has more detail on the City's secrecy and ever increasing evidence for a coverup. "City kept in close touch with DEA following fatal cyclist collision, records show"

This post may be updated.

Killed in 2022

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Evan said...

Have you ever reached out to Whitney re: the best practices in reporting traffic crashes, citing the AP guidance on crash vs. accident and the other reasoning from Goddard, etc.?

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

It's going to be a sustained, team effort to get the SJ turned around on rhetoric. Yesterday the Ex. Editor wrote a story about a death in Woodburn. The headline, "67-year-old woman dies after being struck while crossing Hwy 99E in Woodburn," and lede, "A 67-year-old woman crossing the southbound lanes of Highway 99E in Woodburn was struck by a vehicle Thursday night and died, according to Woodburn Police," both employ passive voice and erase the driver.

See notes tagged "erasing the driver," with emphasis on the Columbia Journalism Review article of 2018 and the first Goddard paper of 2019.

Additionally, this note has been updated with a second statement from Salem PD.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

(Updated with additional note on media coverage)

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

(Updated with note on new piece at Salem Reporter)

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

(Updated with more from Salem Reporter, including evidence Landis was speeding and ran the stop sign.)

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

(Added link to a new Salem Reporter story that advances details on the City's secrecy and coverup.)