Lorissa’s Bill To Change Deadly Intersection
SPOKANE — It’s been the site of nearly 90 crashes in the last ten years, now major changes are on the way to one of the regions most dangerous intersections.
The Washington State House and Senate have included enough money in their budget to fund a construction project at Highway 195 and Cheney-Spokane Road; a project that would eliminate a dangerous blind spot.
Family and friends of Lorissa Green have been pushing for the bill ever since the 16-year-old was killed at the intersection in January of 2009.
Over the course of the next year, drivers along Highway 195 will notice some major changes at the intersection with Cheney-Spokane Road. A new off-ramp will replace an existing right hand turn lane, the cause of an accident that’s fused a lifelong bond
“I walked away from an accident that took a life, it’s something I will never forget,” said Dave Blythe.
It was Blythe that hit and killed Lorissa Green the afternoon of January 16th.
“It’s been a nightmare every hour of every day since then,” said Blythe.
Lorissa’s mother, Debbie Hammel, is living in that same nightmare.
“I pretty much knew she was gone when I saw her car,” Hammel said.
The tragedy of the crash and the dangerous intersection has drawn both Hammel and Blythe together in a unique relationship.
“I was relieved Debbie and I became friends right off the bat,” said Blythe.
Despite the heartache, Hammel has gone beyond forgiveness when it comes to Blythe, she understands what happened that day.
“I wanted him to know that I’ve driven that intersection, I know there was nothing else he could have done,” she said.
With the crash fresh on their minds, the pair traveled to Olympia and convinced legislators that the intersection needs changes.
“We were testifying two months to the day after the accident,” said Blythe.
Hammel and Blythe both agree that the accident wasn’t the fault of either driver, they place the blame on the blind spot created by the right hand turn lane at Cheney-Spokane.
The two say this was likely the case when Lorissa turned northbound on to Highway 195 from Cheney-Spokane. Blythe said a line of cars must have obstructed her view of his truck heading south-bound.
The crash was just one of the nearly 90 crashes that have happened at the intersection in the last decade.
“There’s not a person that drives that road that doesn’t know how dangerous that intersection is,” said Blythe.
Just last week, both Hammel and Blythe learned the state’s budget included enough money to change the dangerous turn lane.
“I think it’s a relief,” said Hammel. “That way I know other people aren’t going to have to go through what we’ve gone through.”
Both Blythe and Hammel say it’s been tough to get back to life before the accident, the two say this project and it’s resulting relationship has helped them cope.
“It’s terrible that it had to come to this to get any kind of action, but we’re there now,” said Blythe.
Hammel is working with Spokane Mayor Mary Verner to lower the speed limit along Highway 195 through Latah Valley and along Cheney-Spokane Road.