Traffic deaths show no sign of slowing down
The first Portland traffic fatality of 2021 was reported just a little more than seven hours into the new year. It followed a pedestrian death the day before — and an increase in 2020, despite a reduction in driving for much of that year caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to police, the driver of a vehicle died and another person is hospitalized with life-threatening injuries following a morning crash on Jan. 1.
The driver in the New Year's Day crash is identified as Daniel Martinez, 19, of Portland. The two passengers are not being identified. One is seriously injured.
Police said that at 7:16 a.m. Jan. 1, East Precinct officers were dispatched to a crash at Southeast Division Street and 112th Avenue. When officers arrived with Portland Fire and Rescue and AMR paramedics, they found a single vehicle had hit a pole. One occupant was found dead and another was seriously injured and transported to the hospital by ambulance. A third occupant had minor injuries and was treated on the scene.
The Portland Police Traffic Division Major Crash Team responded to assume the investigation. Several streets were closed, including Southeast Division Street between 109th and 113th avenues, and Southeast 112th Avenue between Lincoln and Clinton streets.
Investigators determined Martinez was the driver of the vehicle, which was seen driving at a high rate of speed before it crashed into a pole. They do not believe any other vehicles were involved in the wreck.
The most recent previous fatality occurred on New Year's Eve in Southeast Portland. According to police, at 7:36 p.m. Dec. 31, East Precinct officers were dispatched to a report of a crash at Southeast 122nd Avenue and Tibbetts Street. When officers and paramedics arrived, they found an unconscious person. Paramedics attempted lifesaving measures, but the victim died.
The preliminary investigation revealed that a car hit a pedestrian. The driver, Scott A. Gay, 31, of Portland, was driving a 2002 Honda Accord southbound on Southeast 122nd Avenue when his car hit Catherine M. Randolph, 51, of Portland. Randolph was crossing the street westbound outside of a crosswalk north of Southeast Tibbetts Street. Shortly before the crash, another car had to swerve to avoid hitting Randolph.
A Traffic Division Drug Recognition Expert evaluated Gay and determined that he was impaired. Gay was cited for Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants.
The New Year's Eve crash is the 58th traffic fatality of the year in the city. That is eight more than the 50 reported in 2019, and just one shy of the previous high of 59 fatalities in 1996.
The increase happened despite the City Council approving a Vision Zero Action Plan that calls for the elimination of all fatal and major injury crashes by 2025.
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