Third teen dies after Persimmon head-on crash
A third teenager has died from the tragic car crash in the Persimmon Neighborhood earlier this month that has spurred calls to make a dangerous stretch of Gresham road safer.
On Nov. 6, Gresham police officers and medical personnel responded to a two-vehicle crash in the 600 block of Southeast Butler Road. They found a car with six Gresham-area teens had crossed the center line and crashed head-on into a truck driven by a 40-year-old Gresham man.
The driver of the car, 16-year-old Phoenix Forman, was pronounced dead at the scene. A 16-year-old passenger, Rita Grace "Gracie" Sukosd, died shortly after arriving at the hospital. A second 16-year-old passenger, Hailey Aguilar, recently passed after being taken off life support, police said.
The three other teenage passengers, one female and two males, and the driver of the pickup, all suffered various injuries but are expected to survive.
The teens involved in the crash attend four different local high schools, and officials said the "tragedy has been felt throughout the community."
"My thoughts and condolences go out to everyone impacted by this tragic accident," Gresham City Manager Eric Schmidt said during an emotional discussion Tuesday morning, Nov. 10, in the wake of the crash.
The city is conducting a safety audit to determine what needs to be done to prevent similar accidents in the future. The East Metro Vehicular Crimes Team is leading an investigation to determine what caused the crash.
Gresham officials have committed to seeking solutions for that stretch of road, including a safety audit that will determine how to prevent similar accidents in the future. Residents said the sooner the better, as the site has seen many accidents in the past.
"I have seen many light poles and trees taken out by crashes," said John Harrold, a Gresham resident of 22 years who lives just a stone's throw from the site of the most recent crash. "This is an unusual one-mile stretch of city road that can be a speedway at times."
Cars travel along a roadway that curves through residential neighborhoods, with a posted speed limit of 30 miles per hour. Sight lines are limited and neighbors say drivers tend to speed. The neighborhood privately funded the placement of a 30 mph radar board on Southeast Regner Road in an attempt to get drivers to slow down.
In the immediate aftermath of the latest accident, the city placed an electronic reader board along Butler to inform people of the crash and remind everyone to drive safely. The city is also investigating median improvements, speed bumps, stop signs and flashing lights. City staffers have also agreed to set up a meeting with the Persimmon Homeowners Association to discuss other potential options moving forward.
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