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Pedestrian Deaths in Oregon a Cause for Concern

It would be fair to say that the majority of Portland pedestrians understand and, for the most part, abide by the rules of the road at intersections or any time they’re crossing a busy street. While knowing and abiding by the rules certainly helps, it doesn’t, however, always ensure the safety of pedestrians.

Officials are concerned at the number of pedestrian deaths in Oregon across the state, and while it is true to say that a number of these fatalities were certainly not the fault of the victim, this is scant consolation to those left behind. As such, Portland personal injury attorneys are encouraging pedestrians to be extra vigilant when walking on or crossing a roadway, and to watch out for “the other guy,” who might not be as diligent and attentive.

Three recent cases—crossing at the wrong place; the state employee, and the massive cover-up

Oregon news reports have carried more than their fair share of stories this year regarding the deaths of pedestrians. Each case is different, but in all cases, there’s no doubt that devastated, heartbroken families and friends are left behind. Three such Oregon pedestrian death cases in 2012 have attracted considerable attention, including:

The last case is a classic example of why pedestrians need to take special care when crossing the street. The driver who hit the elderly man said he didn’t see the pedestrian until it was too late. Spencer Snow, 25, remained at the scene and immediately consented to a breath test. Police confirmed the reading came back at .00, and said Snow showed no signs whatever of intoxication.

Snow had been driving north on SE 82nd Avenue, and as he approached Insley Street, the pedestrian appeared in front of him. While the death of the pedestrian is without doubt a tragedy, Snow will also be forced to live with the memory of what happened on that fateful night.

Two $260 fines for the state employee

James Sinks, 43, is a spokesman for the Oregon State Treasury, but he had no comment to make on July 26, when he was asked for his version of the events in Salem 10 days earlier. That was when, at about 8:30 on the evening of July 16, Sinks ran a red light and crashed into Connor Jordan, 22, of Vancouver, B.C.

Jordan was crossing Mission Street SE at the intersection with Hawthorne Avenue SE, in a marked crosswalk and with the lights. Sinks was driving a Dodge Dakota pickup truck. Jordan had no chance, and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

While Sinks has been charged by Salem police with failure to obey a traffic control device, as well as failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, the only penalties he’s facing so far are the $260 fines that accompany each of those charges. Almost three weeks after the accident, the district attorney’s office has still not decided whether or not to press criminal charges against Sinks.

The horrifying accident and the shocking cover-up

Nancy Schoeffler was described by her daughter, Solara, as “an amazing woman with a heart of gold…her life was cut short by two women who left her in the street to die and went to great lengths to cover it up.”

Schoeffler, 63, was out for her normal walk and was mere yards from her home when police allege she was run down by Ashley Chavez, 23, who immediately fled the scene, leaving Schoeffler to die in the road. What followed over the next few weeks was truly shocking, and continues to hold the attention of the public as the tale continues to unfold.

Chavez was finally captured on June 1, in Bellingham, Washington. That’s more than 10 weeks after she mowed down Schoeffler and sped away from the scene. Since then, it seems like each week sees charges being brought against a new member of the conspiracy to cover up what happened that night in March. Those arrested, or for whom arrest warrants have been issued thus far include:

  • Jose Alberto Torres, 28, a co-worker of Chavez at Seterus in Beaverton
  • Angela Kaps-Collins, who was a passenger in the car the night Chavez hit and killed Schoeffler
  • Billy E. Collins Jr., 46, Kaps-Collins’ husband
  • Christopher M. Rhea, Chavez’s boyfriend
  • Josh J. Chavez, the brother of the accused driver

Each of the above have been charged with, by various means, helping to cover up what happened to Nancy Schoeffler on the night she was killed, from tampering with evidence by trying to get the car repaired, to hindering prosecution.

Chavez has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

What each of the above cases illustrates is that it’s not just drivers that need to watch out for pedestrians, but those people who are out walking also need to be very aware of the dangers posed by motor vehicles. When a car collides with a pedestrian, there will only ever be one winner, regardless of who follows the rules.

Injuries to pedestrians are frequently so severe, they end up changing the victim’s life forever. This can put an entire family under incredible pressure, both psychologically and financially.

If you or a member of your family was hit by a car, a motorcycle or even a bicyclist while you were out walking and were injured as a result, you shouldn’t have to bear the resulting medical expenses and lost wages. Get in touch with a knowledgeable and very experienced Portland pedestrian accident attorney for a free consultation. They will explain the intricacies of making a PIP claim and help you go about getting compensation from the at-fault driver.

Portland Oregon wrongful death attorneys, fatal accident