By Associated Press • 

ODOT pays $2.2 million for crash that killed Fritz's husband

 

PORTLAND — The Oregon Department of Transportation has paid $1.45 million to Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz for the death of her husband in a car crash.

Dr. Steven Fritz, 54, died in September 2014 when a pickup struck his car during a rainstorm. The pickup had collided with a tanker trailer on Interstate 5 in Salem. It then crossed the grass median into the southbound lane, slamming into Fritz's zebra-striped Nissan Sentra.

Fritz, a psychiatrist at the Oregon State Hospital, died at the scene. The passenger with whom he carpooled to work, 64-year-old Cary Fairchild, died from her injuries 10 days later.

The state confirmed Tuesday that it paid $750,000 to Fairchild's estate.

Fairchild's husband alleged in his lawsuit that the Transportation Department was aware of many crossover crashes on that stretch of highway, and it should have installed a median barrier to prevent them. The Oregonian newspaper reported after the crash that the Transportation Department delayed the installation of a barrier on that stretch of freeway despite being aware of the need for it since at least 1996.

“While the Oregon Department of Transportation settled these lawsuits without admitting liability, it also put in median barrier at the location where the freeway crossover accident occurred, in an effort to minimize the chance of similar accidents in the future,” the department said in a statement.

The estates of Fritz and Fairchild still have pending lawsuits against the pickup driver and the company that owned the tanker trailer.

Amanda Fritz was elected in 2008. She brought up her husband's death last week when criticizing her colleagues for voting to allow Uber and Lyft drivers to operate with what she considers inadequate insurance coverage.

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