CORNELIUS, OR (KPTV) – Washington County sheriff’s deputies say a woman was hit and killed on Tualatin Valley Highway near Cornelius Tuesday morning.
Leslie Schmadeke was crossing the street to take the bus to work when a driver hit her, investigators say, because of poor visibility due to dark and foggy conditions.
Schmadeke’s family tells FOX 12 they wish safety improvements would be made to that stretch of road to prevent more deaths.
“We have all worried about her and crossing that street,” said JenRenee Fairlane, Schmadeke’s cousin. “We have all talked about it being dangerous.”
Schmadeke worked at both the Moda Center and the Portland Children’s Museum, where employees there say they’ll remember her for her gifts of origami and crafting with families for the last nine years.
Here is their full statement:
Portland Children’s Museum mourns the loss of our beloved Museum Experience Facilitator, Leslie Schmadeke, who joyfully shared her gifts of origami & crafting with families for the last nine years. We couldn’t have asked for a more for a more dedicated & faithful member of our team.
Leslie had a second work family at MODA Center at the Rose Quarter. There, she was also known for her love of children & worked in MODA's area for young families.
As we at the Museum grieve for Leslie, our thoughts are also with her family and friends. Leslie will be greatly missed by all.
“She was very much a free spirit,” said Fairlane. “Very pretty. Loved to dance and have fun.”
Deputies, in an initial press release, reminded people it is dangerous to cross dark highways while wearing dark clothing, as they noted Schmadeke was.
“I think it’s totally victim blaming,” said Fairlane. “I don’t think she should have to use a flashlight to flag people down every time she’s trying to go to work.”
But WCSO deputies said Wednesday that their intention was not to victim blame, and that drivers share an important responsibility, as well.
Now, Schmadeke’s family is left wondering what can be done, and how to prevent any more deaths.
Juan Carlos González, Oregon Metro’s deputy council president, grew up in Cornelius and understands how dangerous TV Highway can be.
“My entire life, I’ve seen a lot of issues with safety and how people cross the street to get to the bus stop, to get to the grocery store,” he said.
Right now, he’s working on a plan to make TV Highway, along with 12 other corridors across the region safer for people walking, biking, and people taking public transportation, like Schmadeke did. You can read the full plan here.
“It’s really urgent. I think it’s one of the most important things we need to do and work on right now as local government,” said González.
In the nearer future this summer, the Oregon Department of Transportation will be identifying trouble spots and considering what safety enhancements can be made.
Crews will also be installing three rapid flash crosswalk beacons. They will be at TV Highway at A&B row (on the west side of Cornelius), Armco Avenue in Hillsboro, and at Southwest 174th in Aloha.
Here is a full statement from ODOT:
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.
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