BEND, Ore. - A 26-year-old Springfield woman who grew up on the High Desert died in a Willamette Valley car crash late last week, leaving behind her 17-month-old son, and grieving family and friends are mourning the loss and planning a memorial service.
Morgan Tara Marie Smither died last Thursday night when her SUV failed to negotiate a slight curve on River Road north of Eugene, left the road and struck a power pole, shearing it off at the base, said Lane County sheriff's deputies.
The SUV, which witnesses said had passed several cars at high speed minutes earlier, rolled several times before coming to rest in the middle of the road.
While deputies said speed "was a significant factor" in the crash, there was no indication alcohol was a factor. Smither was wearing her seat belt, they added.
Smither moved to Bend from Bandon in 1994 with her mother and older sister and made some of her first friends at a Boys and Girls Club, said Linda Prehn, who was among those she met there when they both were 8 "and became inseparable."
Smither's parents, Phil and Cindy Morcouiller, live in Bend, Prehn said, while her sister, Ashley, and niece live in Las Vegas.
Smither attended Bear Creek Elementary, continued on to High Desert Middle School and graduated from Marshall High School, she said.
"With her outgoing personality, Morgan made a wake wherever she went," Prehn said.
Smither eventually settled in Eugene, where she and boyfriend Ryan had their son, Rylan, now 17 months old, Prehn said. Soon after, Smither enrolled as a student at Lane Community College in Eugene.
"Morgan loved motherhood and often talked about how happy she was," Prehn said. "She will be missed by so many. Her family is together as they mourn the loss of their loved one.
Another friend, Patricia Frazier, said Smither had just returned home to visit family and friends over Thanksgiving.
"This is a shock to all us," she said. "She was just talking about moving back over here."
A memorial service is scheduled for Monday at the Old Stone (Church), 157 NW Franklin Ave. in downtown Bend.