A memorial to a Franklin High School student who was run down and killed while crossing a busy road by a hit-and-run driver has now, itself, become the latest casualty of the city's streets.
Pots of flowers, a pinwheel, a wreath, and a traffic sign highlighting the pedestrian passage were knocked over on S.E. Hawthorne Boulevard at 43rd Avenue in the first week of the New Year, leaving dirt strewn across the name of the student written on the cement: Fallon Smart.
A spokesman for the Portland Police Bureau said there was no record of anyone calling 9-1-1 to report the incident. The flower pots were righted later in the day, but a fresh dent could be clearly seen on the pole.
Cindy Zielinski, owner of the nearby Fyberworks store, told THE BEE she thinks a car hit the memorial sometime before she arrived for work on the morning of Saturday, January 4. "It feels incredibly disrespectful," she remarked. "They just don't care."
Zielinski said that particular area has become safer since the Portland Bureau of Transportation installed the pedestrian island in 2017, but drivers still make prohibited left turns off Hawthorne at 43rd.
Fallon Smart, then age 15, a talented singer known for her math and science skills, was preparing to enter her sophomore year at Franklin High School in August of 2016 when she was fatally struck by a driver.
"One car had stopped [for Smart to cross], and the other car just sped around it," said Zielinski, who was there that day. And the driver just kept going, as the young student lay dying on the pavement.
A detailed investigation by The Oregonian later uncovered that the involved motorist – foreign exchange student Abdulrahman Sameer Noorah – was most likely spirited out of the country by his home government of Saudi Arabia before he could face a trial for manslaughter and other charges. The former head of the Sunnyside Neighborhood Association, Tony Jordan, says the 1997 Hawthorne Boulevard Street Plan would have removed a traffic lane on the road in order to add more bike paths and other improvements. But that option, proposed by PBOT, never happened.
A spokesman said PBOT first learned of the January 4 incident after a phone call by the Portland Tribune.
"We are taking steps to assess and fix the damage," said PBOT spokesperson Dylan Rivera. And it was repaired and restored soon afterward.
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