Oregon City, county ask for analysis of deadly crossing
Distracted driving is to blame, not the intersection where two pedestrians have been hit — one fatally — in the past two months, says Oregon City Public Works Director John Lewis.
On April 17, 52-year-old Josefina Rojas-Bernadino was fatally hit as she attempted to cross Mollala Avenue where it intersects with Pearl Street. As previously reported, Jordan Jacob Baurer, 24, pleaded guilty in Oregon City Municipal Court to carelessly driving his pickup into Rojas-Bernardino.
Less than seven weeks later, on May 31, Oregon City police responded to another crash involving a driver hitting a pedestrian in the same intersection. The driver, Tracy Laura Gary, 26, received a citation from the city for allegedly operating a motor vehicle while using a mobile device.
While she has yet to have her day in court, Gary could face charges in the thousands of dollars for having hit 12-year-old Oregon City resident Aidin Aidann Popovic while he rode his bicycle, because she was allegedly using her phone at the time.
Lewis said after a meeting last week between city and county officials "the preference was that we move forward with a third-party contractor" to conduct an independent evaluation of the Molalla/Pearl intersection before moving forward with any changes to signal timing or signage.
A previous evaluation by the city tested whether the signals were working properly. They determined it to "not be an engineering problem, but a driver problem," Lewis said.
Clackamas County Community Relations representative Ellen Rogalin confirmed the June 11 meeting between city and county staff, commenting that the Molalla/Pearl crossing "historically has been quite a safe intersection, but we've had two terrible incidents recently, so we are looking at possible signage and signal system adjustments to help the intersection go back to being as safe as it used to be and to remind everybody to obey traffic laws."
Lewis emphasized that the position of the city and county is that "distracted driving is dangerous and must be avoided at all costs. When you are in or near an active roadway, whether you are a motorist or a pedestrian, you need to exercise vigilance and ensure that you are acknowledged and seen at all times. Driving in residential areas around Oregon City involves lots of pedestrian traffic, and drivers should always be cautious and hypervigilant."