Locals want change after fatal motorcycle accident

KTVL/Autumn Robertson

WHITE CITY, Ore. -- A petition directed to the State of Oregon is trending following a fatal motorcycle crash.

Hunter Hoeptner, 21, was killed at the Highway 140 and Kershaw intersection in White City on Wednesday. The cause of the crash is still unknown.

Tristan Watson, good friend of the late Hunter Hoeptner and creator of the petition, believes a simple change could mean saving a life. He and many others want a stop light at the intersection.

The petition is addressed to Senator Ron Wyden, along with other Oregon decision makers.

As of Thursday, the petition has received more than 2,500 signatures. Watson says the petition addresses many safety concerns regarding the area of the accident.

"I felt that if I got the community involved and I got everybody talking about how dangerous the intersection was, it would make a difference," Watson says. "And will justify some kind of justice so his death wasn't so meaningless."

The Oregon Department of Transportation says they have already implemented a plan to make the intersection much safer. However, the plan does not include light signals. In 2005, O-DOT addressed the safety issue by straightening out the road that was initially impairing the view of drivers. Since the fix, only one fatality has occurred. In 2019, they plan on constructing a round-a-bout at the intersection. Gary Leaming says that after roadway tragedies, light signal requests are common. He says putting a traffic light at the intersection may make the issue worse.

"Our experience has been that signals are not a panacea for these types of intersections on high speed, rural intersections" Leaming says. "Typically, we trade one type of serious crash with another."

After much research, Leaming believes that the round-a-bout will ultimately save lives.

"I believe that when we do the roundabout project in 2019, we will be slowing traffic on all different legs to the point where cars will gently go through the intersection, still moving, and we will reduce the number of serious injuries and fatalities," Leaming says.

Watson thinks that people will respond better to a stop light. However, he accepts any change to the intersection.

"Seeing all of the comments with people who have had problems with that intersection," Watson says, "made me realize that something needs to be done."

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