Man in Wheelchair Killed Crossing Street in Hermiston

Date: December 14, 2009
Location: SW 11th Street & W Orchard Avenue, Hermiston, Oregon
Names: Alfred Earl Davis, James Thomas Obrien

Alfred Earl Davis, 66, of Hermiston, Oregon, was the man struck and killed December 14, 2009, while crossing the street in his motorized wheelchair. He died after he was hit by a truck driven by James Thomas Obrien, 60, of Pendleton.

As Davis crossed SW 11th Street at W Orchard Avenue in the marked crosswalk, he was hit by a 2000 Ford F-450 flatbed pickup truck driven by Obrien, who was driving north. The truck was registered to Qualls Honey Houses of Hermiston.

A bystander called 9-1-1, and Hermiston Police Department and Oregon State Police responded to the site. Davis was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police are continuing to investigate, assisted by Umatilla County District Attorney’s Office.

According to an obituary, Davis moved from Boardman to Hermiston six years ago. He worked at Lamb Weston for 25 years, until he was disabled in an accident. He is survived by his ex-wife, Barbara Davis Estrada, daughters De Anne Jensen and Shanna L. Estle, four brothers and two sisters, four grandchildren, and a great-grandson, along with many loving friends and extended family members.

Services were held December 19 at Burns Mortuary Chapel in Hermiston.

We send our sincere condolences to the Davis family after the loss of a much-loved family member. We hope they can take some comfort in the many prayers being sent toward them, including our own.

According to Valvoline, intersections are hazardous areas, accounting for only a tiny percentage of 3.94 million miles of roads in the U.S., but up to 40 percent of car crashes. Seniors and the disabled are particularly at risk. We all share responsibility on the roads, but car drivers should retain more than others. And while pedestrian accidents are often caused by the driver’s inattention, we have some recommendations for pedestrians:

  • Never assume drivers can see you. Keep your head up, make eye contact, and watch for cars making unexpected moves.
  • Observe “Walk” and “Don’t Walk” signs.
  • Even when crossing with the light, look in all directions before stepping off the sidewalk.
  • Keep an eye out for green turn arrows. If cars are turning, wait your turn.
  • Wear light, bright, or reflective clothing.

But pedestrian safety is only half of this life-and-death equation. Driver safety is key, and it is vital for all motorists to watch for everyone, but especially children, seniors, and those in wheelchairs.

If a pedestrian is hit in a crosswalk, it is generally considered the driver’s fault, as it should. Everyone must be alert on the road, but when you have 2,000 pounds on your side, it seems only right that you should look for those smaller than you. However, just like everything in the law, there are exceptions. If the pedestrian was drunk and wearing dark clothes, and it was dark, the driver can sometimes escape prosecution. Or if a pedestrian darts out unexpectedly into an intersection, the law may take the driver’s side too.

But in most cases, the law will consider it to be the driver’s fault, and the pedestrian or the pedestrian’s family will be able to get legal compensation. But in this situation, the child was in a marked crosswalk, and the driver should have been aware and ready to slow down. Especially right now, when road conditions are not optimal and it’s dark so much sooner. It’s hard to see pedestrians, and a driver should assume there is one around every corner. All cases are different, of course, so contact a knowledgeable Portland personal lawyer if you have any questions about your case.