Child killed dashing across Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood street

Her mother says a crosswalk in this sidewalk-less outer East Portland could have prevented the tragedy; officials haven’t yet commented …

SE 136th Avenue just north of SE Ellis Street is closed, while police investigate an accident that took the life of a young girl.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
After a young girl finished playing at a nearby neighbor’s house, tragedy struck on February 28, just after 7:00 p.m., on SE 136th Avenue – when the child ran into traffic and was struck down in the street.

That evening, 5-year-old Morgan Maynard-Cook was walking north along SE 136th Avenue, hand-in-hand with a 13-year-old boy who said he was making sure she got home safely.

Near SE Harold Street, the pair stopped to cross the road – a street that is zoned at 35 mph. A northbound vehicle stopped, waiting for them to cross.

The light of Portland Fire & Rescue Truck 28 illuminates the accident scene, shortly after the accident occurred.

Impulsively, Maynard-Cook broke away from her escort and dashed across the street, running to her home on the west side of the road – and not noticing that a 2002 Suzuki Grand Vitara was rapidly traveling southbound.

The southbound vehicle’s impact threw the little girl into the air; she landed on the side of the road. The boy picked her up, and carried her home; asking the adults there for help.

“A vehicle driving southbound on 136th Avenue, driven by a 69-year-old female, struck the child and immediately stopped,” said Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Traffic Division Lt. Chris Davis at the scene.

A Traffic Division investigator continues to inspect the scene.
“The driver remained at the scene and cooperated with investigators. Investigators believe she was traveling at or below the speed limit. The woman was not impaired by alcohol or drugs.”

Later, Davis confirmed that the girl died while being transported to the hospital.

Family members say 5-year-old Morgan Maynard-Cook was a lively little girl. Family supplied photo

The girl’s mother, Connie Ruiz, was surrounded by family members and friends outside the home later that evening, and spoke with reporters.

“She was a very curious, full-of-life, and happy little girl,” Ruiz said about the youngest of seven kids; she was a kindergartner attending Gilbert Park Elementary School.

“She was so close to home,” said Ruiz. “It could have been prevented if there was a crosswalk.”

An officer talks with the woman, said to be the driver of the SUV that struck the girl.

The PPB Traffic Division Major Crash Team quickly responded and began an hours-long investigation.

“The driver has been identified as 68-year-old Huong Dang Bacon,” later stated PPB Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson. “No citations have been issued, and the case is still under investigation.”

As the investigation continues on into the night, the SUV that struck the girl remains at the scene.

If there is a lesson, it seems to be, if you are a driver and notice a vehicle stopped for no apparent reason, slow and be prepared to stop also.

And if you are a pedestrian, don’t assume that if one vehicle stopped, others will too. Look before crossing additional lanes. An avoidable accident like this one will change some lives forever.

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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