Police say driver left scene after hitting, killing woman in Southwest Portland

Police say a driver struck and killed a woman in Southwest Portland on March 19, 2019. KATU photo

PORTLAND, Ore. – Police say a driver hit and killed a woman in Southwest Portland Tuesday morning before leaving the scene.

The crash happened at about 7 a.m. at Southwest 45th Avenue and Carson Street. Neighbors say the woman was trying to cross the street when she was hit.

Police say the driver left the scene and was last seen heading north on SW 45th Ave. after the crash. The suspect was driving a red or burgundy older van.

Officers have not identified the victim yet. Neighbors say the woman regularly walked around the neighborhood.

Neighbors say, sadly, it was only a matter of time until someone died here. Several neighbors told KATU News they have complained about speeding along SW 45th Avenue.

"All we need is a patrol car. Sit here in my parking lot and you'll make your quota for the year on tickets, no doubt," said Leslie Simpson, who lives on SW 45th, a few houses from where Tuesday's crash happened.

Simpson set up a sign that says "slow down" outside her home to remind drivers to be careful.

"We need to get the message across -- there are children, young children, dogs, and families that walk on this street, and we are terrified to walk to the bus station because of the speeding traffic," Simpson said.

"It just makes sense to speed control this however they do it, just do it," said Randy Bynum, another neighbor. "Because now the ultimate has happened, somebody has died, and I've been saying for a long time that this is going to happen. So, it did. I'm very sad to see it."

A spokesperson for the Portland Bureau of Transportation said they plan to look at speed along this road in light of the crash. He also said it is very rare to happen on a two-lane road like SW 45th Ave.

This is the eighth death on Portland roads in 2019. Five of those people killed were pedestrians. This time last year there were seven deaths, four of them were pedestrians.

Pedestrians are some of the most vulnerable road users. According to PBOT, they are 10 times as likely to be injured or killed than a driver. People on foot account for 9 percent of trips taken on Portland roads, but 31 percent of traffic deaths.

There is also a noticeable lack of sidewalks in this part of Portland.

"No bike lanes and no sidewalks are a nightmare. That's very common through Southwest Portland," said Janet Hawkins, chair of the nearby Hayhurst Neighborhood Association.

She says they have been working with PBOT to improve road safety in the area. She also helped develop Portland's most recent pedestrian plan.

Hawkins says they need more sidewalks and lighted crosswalks in this part of town.

"There are very few shoulders and safe walking areas, and almost no sidewalks in that area where the pedestrian was killed," she said.

This part of town is similar to East Portland, according to PBOT, in that both areas of the city are lacking sidewalks. PBOT says missing sidewalks have become an "increasingly prevalent problem." Much of East Portland and Southwest Portland were annexed in the 1970s and 1980s from Multnomah County. Many of those areas annexed had already been developed without complete sidewalk networks.

Where we're at with Vision Zero:

What's unique to this part of town that makes it tough on pedestrians:

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