Portlanders honor 61 killed in traffic crashes this year; Call for safer roads, victim support

Sunday was World Day of Remembrance, a day to remember those killed in traffic accidents, and community members gathered in the Lloyd District to honor them.
Published: Nov. 19, 2023 at 5:59 PM PST
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - As of Sunday, 62 people have died in traffic crashes on Portland streets.

Sunday was World Day of Remembrance, an international day to remember those killed in traffic accidents, and community members gathered in the Portland Lloyd District to honor them.

A group of about 30 people marched from the Lloyd Center to the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, where the dead were represented by 61 (the count as of Nov. 14) sleeping bags with tags displaying their names and the dates they died.

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The Street Trust and Families for Safe Streets partnered to put on the event in hopes of moving the public to action.

Sarah Iannarone, executive director of The Street Trust, said similar events happened in more than 70 cities across North America.

“That’s just a fraction of the people killed in our community,” Iannarone said, gesturing to the sleeping bags on the ground. “134 people were killed across the Tri-County, greater Portland metro area, and 460 people died on Oregon’s streets and roads as of November 8th this year.”

For some, like Beth Schmidt from Salem, it was extremely personal. She attended the event to honor her late coworker, Denise Van Dyke, who died last December when a car turned into the crosswalk as she was crossing the street near their workplace.

Schmidt was one of the first to witness the aftermath.

“She was a really amazing woman, really well-read, so funny, she had a light about her,” Schmidt said. “I don’t want to behave in a way that it didn’t happen. It’s hard to deal with because of what I saw, but it’s also what motivates me to continue to talk about pedestrian safety.”

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Organizers said they hope to gather enough support to elect leaders who will pursue safer roads, advocate for traffic victims and educate people on how to prevent accidents.

According to The Street Trust, annual traffic deaths in Oregon nearly doubled between 2010 and 2022, and it’s turned into an emergency.

“It’s our opinion that these deaths are preventable and we need to treat this as the public health crisis that it is,” Iannarone said.

Following the event, the sleeping bags will be donated to people in need, organizers said.

To find out more about their upcoming goals and projects, visit The Street Trust website here.