A few years ago, an Oregon woman lost her two daughters in a tragic pedestrian accident which prosecutors attempted to try as a hit-and-run case. However, because of the way Oregon law was written, the driver who hit the girls and admittedly drove away from the scene ultimately avoided a criminal conviction.
According to the driver’s trial testimony, she was traveling along and ran through a leaf pile on the road. What she described as a bump was actually two girls, the woman’s daughters, who were playing in the leaves in the road. They both died from their injuries. The driver of the vehicle assumed that she had simply run over an inanimate object buried under the leaves and kept going. When she heard about the fatal accident, she chose not to come forward until authorities tracked her down.
Although a jury found the driver guilty, the Oregon courts later overturned the conviction, saying that the law does not strictly require a driver who did not know they had been involved in an accident until a later time to return to the scene or otherwise try to make things right. Now, the mother of the victims is urging lawmakers to close that legal loophole. The measure has already passed one chamber in the Oregon legislature.
Aside from codifying what most Portlanders would consider decent behavior, having a more comprehensive hit-and-run law helps victims identify the responsible party for an accident so that they know from whom to seek compensation for their losses. When a person causes an auto-pedestrian accident, he or she should be prepared to pay up and should not be able to avoid responsibility by driving off.
Source: KGW 8, “Mom wants change to Oregon hit-and-run law,” Feb. 22, 2018.