Tribal Government & News

Tragic Labor Day accident prompts road safety discussion

09.30.2015 Dean Rhodes Tribal Council, People, Public Safety

By Dean Rhodes

Smoke Signals editor

The tragic death of a 12-year-old Tribal youth who was hit by a vehicle while crossing Grand Ronde Road on her bicycle has prompted community discussions about how to improve safety on the increasingly busy road.

Saige Marie Selwyn was hit by a Ford pickup truck near the Grand Ronde Food Bank at approximately 3:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 7. She was transported by West Valley Fire District ambulance to Salem Hospital and flown to Oregon Health & Science University’s Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.

She suffered head trauma in the accident and after two weeks of fighting for her life, she walked on on Monday, Sept. 21.

The accident and ensuing community reaction sparked conversation at the Wednesday, Sept. 16, Tribal Council meeting about bicycle safety, vehicles speeding on Grand Ronde Road and possibly reducing the speed limit on the thoroughfare that connects two state highways.

Saige was mentioned in invocations before General Council and Tribal Council meetings. Many prayers were offered by friends, family and community members on several Facebook pages and a candlelight vigil was held on Wednesday, Sept. 23, near the bike memorial on Grand Ronde Road.

The bike memorial sprung up on the west side of Grand Ronde Road just north of the Grand Ronde Food Bank and lime green ribbons – her favorite color – decorated mailbox posts, fences and utility poles along the road.

On Friday, Sept. 25, Tribal Council released a statement that read: “Tribal Council has contacted Polk and Yamhill counties about improving pedestrian safety on Grand Ronde Road. Tribal Council held a work session on Sept. 22 to discuss crosswalk improvements and a request to reduce the speed limit on Grand Ronde Road and Salmon Way for community safety. The Tribe has ordered flashing lights for crosswalks along Grand Ronde Road. They will be installed in the coming weeks.

“Tribal Council and the General Manager's Office are working with Education, Social Services and law enforcement to provide educational courses and helmets for Tribal youth. Tribal Council will continue to keep the community updated on progress in making the area a safer place to live.”

The accident was investigated by the Grand Ronde Police Department and the department’s findings were reviewed by the Yamhill County District Attorney’s Office.

“At this time there is no evidence to file any criminal charges,” said Grand Ronde Police Chief Al LaChance.