REDMOND, Ore. - Redmond police on Friday identified a 32-year-old Redmond woman who was killed when her SUV and a pickup truck collided Thursday at a southwest Redmond intersection.
Jessica M. Ennis died at the scene of the crash, which blocked Highway 126 (Highland Avenue for over five hours – at a corner that has had nine crashes in two years and is slated for safety improvements next year, police said.
She was the 10th person killed in crashes on Central Oregon highways in the past 11 days, according to ODOT records.
Redmond police Lt. Curtis Chambers said Friday the investigation continues and that all reports when completed will be sent to the Deschutes County District Attorney's Office, as is standard in all death investigations.
Chambers said Thursday that two children in the SUV were taken to the hospital with apparent non-life-threatening injuries after the crash, which was reported around 12:05 p.m. at the corner of Southwest 35th Street and Highland Avenue
Ennis's silver Honda CRV SUV was heading south on 35th Street and the Dodge pickup was heading west on Highland, pulling a utility trailer, at the time of the crash, Chambers said the driver of the pickup declined medical treatment and was cooperating with investigators, he added.
A preliminary investigation found her SUV was attempting to cross the highway when it was struck on the driver's side by the pickup, sending both vehicles off the road and into a field.
“At this time, it is too early to determine the speed of the vehicles involved, or if intoxicants or distraction were contributing factors,” Chambers said in a news release.
The highway was closed throughout the afternoon, reopening about 5 p.m. and a drone was seen being used in the crash reconstruction work. Bend police also assisted at the scene. The road at the location was bare and dry at the time, Chambers said.
ODOT had urged drivers to avoid the area if possible and detoured traffic onto other streets between 27th Street and Helmholtz Avenue.
Police are familiar with safety issues at the location, where there is no traffic signal but stop signs for drivers on 35th Street.
"The intersection has had its fair share of crashes, and several as of late," Chambers said. "Part of the reason the speed limit on highway (was) lowered to 45 miles an hour, and oversized stop signs are used to remind drivers to stop completely on 35th."
A neighbor told NewsChannel 21's Pedro Quintana more needs to be done to improve safety at the intersection – a viewpoint shared by many comments on KTVZ’s Facebook page.
"They're going to put a couple thousand more people in (this neighborhood)," one neighbor said. "And they only want to put in a couple of turn lanes. Well, what's that? I mean, people are doing 55 mph coming in."
That project to add the left-turn lanes is scheduled to go out to bid in January, with completion by May or June, city officials said.
There have been nine crashes at that intersection police have responded to over the past two years, Chambers said. That’s not the most in Redmond – over the same time frame, there were 25 crashes at S. Highway 97 and Veterans Way, and 11 both at Highway 97 and Odem Medo Road and Southwest Sixth Street and Glacier Avenue. There also have been nine crashes at Highway 97 and Southwest Evergreen Avenue. All of those intersections have traffic lights, he noted.
Redmond police were assisted at the scene by the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, Bend Police Department, Oregon State Police, Redmond Public Works – Transportation Division, Oregon Department of Transportation, Deschutes County Medical Examiners Office, Central Oregon Police Chaplaincy, and Redmond Fire & Rescue.
Chambers concluded his news release with these words:
“Your Redmond Police Department is very concerned with the safety of everyone driving, riding, walking or otherwise using our roadways. By using the “4 E’s of Traffic Safety,” Engineering, Education, Enforcement, and EMS, our roadways can be made safe.
“However, the most important part of traffic safety is the individual and the decisions he or she makes. Please slow down, pay attention, and leave plenty of space between you and the vehicle in front of you. Eliminate distractions in your vehicle, ‘unplug’ yourself while driving and enjoy the journey.”