Skip to Content

Nine lives lost on Central Oregon roads in nine days


After nine people were killed in just nine days on Central Oregon highways, the Oregon Department of Transportation released a video Wednesday: a plea for drivers to slow down, stay alert and focus on the driving task at hand when hitting the road.

The simple, one-minute and 42 second-video details the grim tragedies of the recent crashes.

On Dec. 19, Richard Mullins, 34, and his 10-year-old son were killed near Madras when a 2007 Honda Ridgeline driven by Mateo J. Smith, 19, of Warm Springs, drifted over the center line and his vehicle clipped Mullins’ vehicle.

The following day, Kylee Bruce, 24, of Redmond was heading south on Highway 97 when she lost control while making a pass. According to OSP, Bruce’s sedan slid sideways into the northbound lanes, where it was struck on the side by another vehicle.

A man, Ryan Hunt, was struck and killed on Third Street in northeast Bend on Wednesday, Dec. 21.

Lola Stanphill, 57, of La Pine was killed on Highway 97 just north of La Pine when she lost control of her truck on Friday night.

And earlier this week, three people were killed on Highway 26 northwest of Warm Springs. Two physics professors were among the victims.

On Tuesday night, Anthony Marvin, 22, of Redmond, was struck and killed while walking in a travel lane of Highway 126 just east of the Redmond Airport, Oregon State Police said.

“We’re trying to get the word out. It’s a busy time of year. We want people to do the best they can on the highway, and that way, as many people (as) we can get home safely, that’s what we’re going to do,” ODOT Region 4 spokesman Peter Murphy said Wednesday.

In the past five years, 92 percent of crashes on Highway 97 had driver-related causes, according to ODOT.

According to ODOT, from 2010 to 2015 on Highway 97 from Lava Butte to the city limits of Madras, there have been 305 crashes that were caused because vehicles were following others too closely.

Vehicles going too fast for conditions was the main cause for 244 crashes, and 140 crashes were caused because drivers did not yield the right of way.

Murphy said he has not seen so many fatalities happening within a short time span.

“Nine people dying on our highways in the past nine days — that’s an incredible number. And when you take the small population that we have, and you put the number of fatalities in, it’s just an extraordinary turn of events,” Murphy said.

Gregory Dewitt, the nephew of Lola Stanphill, told NewsChannel 21 on Wednesday his aunt was always alert when it came to driving.

Dewitt said the lack of barriers on the highway makes the roads unsafe. He said he thinks if a barrier had been in place where his aunt crashed, it could have been a minor accident, rather than a fatality.

Dewitt hopes drivers will take time to slow down and stay alert.

The family has set up a GoFundMe page for funeral expenses for Stanphill.

If you would like to see ODOT’s “Nine Days, Nine Lives” video, click here.

Article Topic Follows: News

Jump to comments ↓

KTVZ News Team


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content