One Pedestrian Killed, One Injured in Crash

Date: November 1, 2009
Location: SE 80th Avenue & Foster Road, Portland, Oregon
Names: Lindsay A. Leonard, Jessica Finlay

Two women walking home from a nearby Fred Meyer store were hit by a car November 1, 2009, around 7:30 PM, as they crossed a marked but poorly lit intersection at SE 80th Avenue and Foster Road. Lindsay A. Leonard, 23, of Southeast Portland, was killed in the crash. Her roommate, Jessica Finlay, 28, was injured and taken to a local hospital in critical condition.

Leonard was walking in or very near a marked pedestrian crosswalk when she was killed. Police said the driver, who was not identified, did not appear to be impaired. The driver stopped at the crash site and is cooperating with the police investigation.

Neighbors told KATU.com that the crosswalk is often dimly lit. It was dark when the two women were hit, and the streetlight was not working. A witness told KATU that he did not think the driver and the pedestrians saw each other.

“Hopefully this will be a wake-up call for the city to do something more about lighting and control in this intersection,” local resident Sean Burr told NorthWest Cable News. “This is the third time in five years that something has happened here.”

KGW reports that three years ago two blocks west of the crash scene, two girls, ages, 5 and 3, were hit by a car while they crossed the street with their mother. The younger girl died. And in 2006, a few blocks away, a man in his 20s was hit by a car and killed.

Leonard and Finlay lived just a half block from the accident site.

Our hearts go out to Leonard’s family as they try to come to grips with this terrible tragedy. We are reminded of the preciousness and fragility of each life, and we hope that this will indeed be a wake-up call for the city to make this intersection safer. Our thoughts also go out to Finlay as she recovers in the hospital and tries to make some sort of sense out of what happened. Words are not enough, but please know we are thinking of you. We will also be thinking of the driver, who must be going through a horrible ordeal right now as well. This is a difficult time for everyone involved, and we hope all of us, as a community, will be able to learn from this accident and help in the healing and work to help ensure something like this never happens again.

In addition to grief and regret, we also get angry at cases like this. There is no excuse for a crosswalk that is “often dimly lit.” We agree with Sean Burr’s hope that this will prompt the City into action – as well as the community. And while the community can plead and picket, it is our experience that it can often take a lawsuit to open the City’s eyes.

The people involved should be aware that there is a very strict 180-day limit for suing a City or County in Oregon. We got a call just last week from a woman who wanted to sue a state hospital, and since the injury was about 220 days earlier, we had to tell her she had no recourse whatsoever.