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On Thanksgiving Eve, Portland Reaches a New High in Traffic Deaths

Sixty-one people have died in crashes this year, a Portland Police Bureau spokesman tells WW.

Two people died in Portland traffic the night before Thanksgiving, adding to an unprecedented death toll on the city’s roads.

Sixty-one people have died in crashes this year, a Portland Police Bureau spokesman tells WW. The two deaths Wednesday night surpass the 59 recorded in 1996—the first year Portland began recording comprehensive numbers.

That number may be adjusted downward in official tallies: PPB numbers often differ from Portland Bureau of Transportation figures, which follow national practices of excluding fatal wrecks in parking lots or caused by medical events. But Portland is on pace to see more citizens die by car in 2021 than in any year in city history.

The first of the Nov. 24 deaths happened less than two hours after sunset, when a driver struck and killed a person crossing Northeast Marine Drive near 128th Avenue. The driver remained on the scene.

At 10:31 pm, police found a vehicle crashed into a tree near Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and North Gertz Road. The driver, the only occupant of the vehicle, was dead at the wheel. Police don’t believe another vehicle was involved.

Related: You’re driving too damn fast.

Both roads where people died last night are on streets the city identified as part of a “High Crash Network” where traffic fatalities are more likely to occur. City officials have spent millions trying to reduce those deaths to zero.

Instead, the numbers are rising. Fifty people died in traffic in 2019, and 54 in 2020.