Grieving Mother Makes A Plea For Change At Busy Intersection

SPOKANE — A group of concerned people gathered at the state capitol to discuss changes at a busy intersection in Spokane County.

In the last ten years, the intersection of Highway 195 and Cheney-Spokane Road has seen 86 crashes. The most recent one killed 16-year-old Lorissa Green of Cheney. 

On Monday, dozens of people joined her mother in Olympia, asking the state legislature to fix the troubled intersection.

“It is a mother’s worst nightmare,” Lorissa’s mother Debi Hammel said.

In January, Hammel sat by her daughter’s hospital bed, holding Lorissa’s hand. She cuddled with her daughter and prepared to say goodbye as transplant doctors got ready to take her organs.

“She’ll give someone sight and life. She’ll live through them,” Hammel said.

She is channeling her pain to make sure what happened to Lorissa never happens again.

“I’m not the type of person who just sits back and lets things happen,” Hammel said.

Every week, Hammel says she hears from a new victim of the intersection at Highway 195 and Cheney-Spokane Road, and she says all of them can be blamed on a dangerous blind spot.

The right hand turn lane along Cheney-Spokane Road is the main problem. When it fills up with cars during rush hour, it is very difficult to see oncoming cars.

“Every person that I’ve met, every single person who’s been in an accident there, has told me the same story,” Hammel said.

She and several other people got a chance to voice their concerns on Monday. Thomas Grieb talked about a 2006 accident that almost took his life. 

“My neck broke, my back, my shoulder, my pelvis, my ribs, my hips, collapsed lung, fractured liver,” accident victim Thomas Grieb said. “This intersection has left me in this wheel chair.”

David Blyton, the man who hit Lorissa Green was also in Olympia and he spoke about the night that changed his life forever.

“I’ll never forget the sight I saw, the sounds I heard, everyday, twice a day, twice a day going through that intersection,” Blyton said.

In all, five people testified and more than 40 made the trip to Olympia in support of the bill. They are asking legislators to fund a $250,000 project that would reroute the right turn lane and turn it into more of an off-ramp that would not obstruct the view of those making a left hand turn. 

“I think that we made some noise in Olympia. I think that they will consider that, and it will get passed,” Hammel said.

Although she will never touch her daughter again, Hammel hopes her daughter’s life, and the way that she died, touches lawmakers.

“I’m sad that it had to come to that,” Hammel said.

The state transportation budget is due on April 26th and that is when lawmakers will make a decision on Lorissa’s Bill.