DA: No criminal charges filed for fatal pedestrian involved crash
Jackson County District Attorney says there will be no charges against the driver who struck and killed a pedestrian on November 3rd.
According to a statement from the Jackson County District Attorney's Office, "After a thorough review of the evidence collected by Medford Police Department, concerning the death of pedestrian Michael Bates, no criminal charges will be filed."
There is insufficient evidence to support proof that the driver, John Warren Withlock, acted recklessly or in a criminally negligent manner when he struck and killed Bates.
The incident happened last month at around 10:10 p.m. when Whitlock was driving northbound on Columbus Avenue in a City of Medford work vehicle. He had just finished locking the restrooms at US Cellular Park and was on his way to the City of Medford parking lot on 821 N. Columbus Ave. The road was wet from rain while he was driving.
According to witnesses and Whitlock, he was driving an estimated speed of approximately 30 mph as be approached Prune Street. The speed limit in the area is posted at 35 mph.
Whitlock says he scanned ahead to a crosswalk near Woodland Heights Market on the southwest corner of Columbus Ave and Prune Street. At the same time a larger SUV stopped in the opposite direction waiting for Bates to cross the street. The SUV's headlights caused a glare toward Whitlock's direction as he entered the intersection causing him to hit Bates.
Surveillance video of the area showed Bates crossing at the crosswalk wearing dark colored clothing (grey shoes, dark pants, jacket and a jacket with a little orange trim) and then being struck by Whitlock's vehicle. Bates is seen rolling off the hood of the vehicle and landing 55 feet from the crosswalk. He was taken to Rogue Regional Medical Center with significant head injuries. After spending 17 days in the ICU, Bates died from his injuries on November 20th.
In the video, Whitlock does not seem to be driving reckless or speeding.
The DA's office acknowledges that Mr. Whitlock had failed to yield at the crosswalk and caused the death of Bates.
"The event that evening was a terrible accident that will forever effect Mr. Bate's and Mr. Whitlock's family. However, the evidence and statements collected during the investigation did not indicate intoxication, speed, and/or phone usage were the causes of this tragic event. Mr. Whitlock's actions that day do not rise to the level of criminal conduct,"
The DA is sending the case back to the Medford Police Department for review and to issue the appropriate non-criminal traffic citations.