HILLSBORO, Ore. (KOIN) — “How many more people have to die?”
-That’s the question Shauna Nicols is asking after a 51-year-old Hillsboro woman was hit and killed by a minivan Tuesday morning along a deadly stretch of highway near Cornelius.
It happened around 7 a.m. at SW Tualatin Valley Highway and 341st. The Washington County Sheriff’s Office said the woman, Leslie Schmadeke, was rushed to a hospital but succumbed to her injuries.
Investigators said it was dark and foggy at the time of the crash. There are no streetlights at that part of the highway and Schmadeke was wearing dark clothes. The driver of the minivan stayed at the scene and cooperated. Authorities don’t believe any crime was committed.
But the deeper issue, according to people living in the area, is that state and local officials aren’t doing anything to make the stretch of highway safer.
“There’s no crosswalks, there’s no lights and it’s just a very dangerous situation and people are going way too fast,” Nicols told KOIN 6 News. “It’s just getting more dangerous every day… Nobody’s listening.”
Several other local residents agreed with her.
Juan Carlos Gonzalez, the deputy council president for Oregon Metro, said his team is working to make the jurisdiction of TV Highway more flexible so individual cities or counties can make improvements to the roadway.
“I think we need to do everything in our power to, one, generate the resources to make those improvements but also to shift the policy where we need to so that our local communities can be responsive,” Gonzalez said.
He added there are still many details to iron out but he hopes funds will be available in the next few years.
But people like Nicols are tired of the slow pace of bureaucracy.
“We need help,” she said.
The Oregon Department of Transportation sent KOIN 6 the following statement on Wednesday:
“Tragedies like what happened Tuesday on Tualatin Valley Highway do not go unnoticed by ODOT. Every crash, especially those involving fatalities, gets careful scrutiny from our safety teams. We check police reports to learn more about where a crash happened, the conditions at the time and the infrastructure in the area so we can assess what happened and determine what can be done in the short term to prevent a repeat in the future. Just this past August ODOT partnered with local law enforcement on a pedestrian safety enforcement action that resulted in thirty citations to help raise driver awareness along this stretch of TV Highway, and in the longer term ODOT has three rapid flash beacons programmed for construction in the next few years. More immediately, ODOT will be partnering with Washington County, the City of Cornelius and our law enforcement partners this summer to begin a Road Safety Audit (RSA). These RSAs involve a walk-through by traffic engineers, local officials and neighbors to identify trouble spots and consider short, mid-term and longer-term improvements to improve safety. This area has grown significantly in recent years and that is putting increased pressure on the region’s roads.”
The investigation into Tuesday’s crash continues.