ODOT seeks to boost Hwy. 20 safety after 2nd fatal crash

Roundabout is one option that will be considered

ODOT makes plans for dangerous intersection

BEND, Ore. - (Update: ODOT will seek more safety improvements; details of crash)

Oregon Department of Transportation officials said Monday they are taking a closer look at improving safety at an intersection east of Bend after the second fatal crash in just over four months. 

Oregon State Police said a John Day man was killed Sunday evening when he pulled out from a stop sign at U.S. Highway 20 and Ward/Hamby roads, into the path of an oncoming pickup truck.

Lt. Cari Boyd said Kevin Faber, 55, of John Day, died at the scene of the crash, reported around 5:45 p.m. at the intersection. OSP troopers and emergency personnel responded to the two-vehicle crash, near milepost 3.5.

A preliminary investigation found that David Rausch, 33, of Bend was driving a blue Dodge 2500 pickup heading west on the highway, approaching Hamby Road, while Faber was at the wheel of a maroon Mercury Mystique, southbound on Hamby Road at the stop sign.

"Faber suddenly pulled out in front of the Dodge pickup," Boyd said, and his car was struck on the driver's-side door, causing fatal injuries.

Faber’s passenger, Dalena Norton. 43, also of John Day, suffered non-life threatening injuries and was treated at an area hospital. Neither Rausch nor his passenger, Clayton Coe, 56, also of Bend, were injured in the crash, Boyd said.

The crash closed Highway 20E for about an hour, until one lane opened for alternating traffic for about 90 more minutes, at which point the road was fully reopened.

The Bend police and fire departments, ODOT, the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office and the Deschutes County Medical Examiner’s Office assisted OSP at the scene.

“With any of these high-crash locations, especially the severe ones, we start taking a more focused look a those, and we do look at that as soon as we possibly can,” Dave Hirsch, ODOT's interim Region 4 traffic manager, said Monday. 

Hirsch said there's been a recent trend of more severe crashes at the intersection, and alleviating the problem has moved up on the agency's priority list. Officials have tried low-cost options, such as improved signage. Now they’re planning on doing what’s called a road safety audit, which is an in-depth study of traffic in the area.

ODOT Region 4 spokesman Peter Murphy said, “We’ll look at this intersection in the wake of the crash that happened, and try to figure out where it fits in our priority. It’s pretty high already, and we’ll take a look at what kind of resources we can match to that, and then develop a solution that will work."

Murphy said the audit will likely start fairly quickly, but acknowledged that long-term solutions are further off. 

According to ODOT, there were 20 crashes at the intersection in a five-year period. In February, they lowered the speed limit from 55 to 45, but officials said Monday more needs to be done. 

Daniel Serpico, ODOT's senior traffic analyst, said, “Over the past few years, we’ve done sign improvements. But we’re looking at something that’s a little bit better, something that would hopefully help people not crash. So counter-measures similar to a roundabout could be used in the future."

Marc Price, 48, of Bend, was killed on Dec. 13 when he tried to make a left turn in his Ford Transit van at the intersection and was struck by an oncoming pickup driven by Michael Deleone, 59 also of Bend. OSP said at the time they were investigating distracted driving as a factor in the crash.

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