Police may have a break in Sunday’s fatal hit-and-run

Police find pickup they believe was involved in collision that killed 2 pedestrians near mall

By Patty Hastings, Columbian Social Services, Demographics, Faith



Vancouver police located a truck Tuesday night that they believe was involved in Sunday’s hit-and-run collision that killed two Vancouver women in a crosswalk on Northeast Vancouver Mall Drive.

Detectives from the Vancouver Police Department’s Traffic and Major Crimes units got a search warrant for the truck, which was at the Larkspur Place apartments, 7609 N.E. Vancouver Mall Drive. The apartments are a one-minute drive from the site of the crash. Police said Tuesday night that they planned to take the truck in as evidence. They did not release the name of the truck’s owner.

Shortly after 8 p.m. Sunday, Irina Gardinant, 28, and Raisa Mosh, 45, were killed at Northeast 72nd Avenue and Vancouver Mall Drive. Police launched a search for a white pickup truck that they believed struck the women and drove away. They also sought information about a second, black pickup truck also at the scene.

Unanswered questions

Many questions remained Tuesday about the fatal hit-and-run. Namely, why didn’t the driver stop to help? And is it safe for pedestrians to cross at that intersection?

The intersection has seen 12 collisions in the past three years, according to Washington State Department of Transportation data. It’s also an intersection with many speeding drivers, residents in the VanMall neighborhood say.

In 2010, a drunken driver made a left turn at the intersection, striking a pedestrian with the vehicle, according to WSDOT data. The data noted that the pedestrian in that collision received “evident injuries.” Sunday night’s fatal crash also involved a vehicle turning left into a pedestrian walkway.

Of the 12 recent crashes at that intersection, at least three resulted in an injury, but none of the 12 collisions were fatal, according to the WSDOT data, which covers Jan. 1, 2010, through Sept. 30, 2013. Five of the 12 crashes occurred during daylight hours.

On Tuesday, residents in the VanMall neighborhood described their own near misses in an area they say gets plenty of traffic; it’s a central route to the mall and lots of people walk in the area, as well.

Tom Pace, who lives nearby and frequently walks along Vancouver Mall Drive, said he’s almost been hit a few times while riding his bike. He said the area’s traffic volume fluctuates throughout the year. Typically, it increases around the winter holidays when people head to the mall for gift shopping.

“This is one of many ways to the mall,” Pace said.

Although the speed limit on Northeast Andresen Road, a nearby throughway, is 40 mph, the speed limit decreases to 35 mph on Vancouver Mall Drive, and to 25 mph on 72nd Avenue. Pace said there aren’t any stoplights on the half-mile stretch of Vancouver Mall Drive between 72nd Avenue and Thurston Way. That stretch of the road also has several C-Tran bus stops.

“I don’t see what more they could do to improve it,” Pace said of the intersection where Gardinant and Mosh died. Perhaps officials could install a radar sign that alerts drivers who are speeding, he added.

Loretta Callahan, spokeswoman for Vancouver Public Works, said the city is gathering data on collisions at the intersection that have been reported to the state.

Cash reward

On Tuesday, Crime Stoppers of Oregon offered up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest in the hit-and-run case.

The suspect vehicle is described as a white 2005 to 2008 Toyota Tacoma pickup fitted with a bed-mounted “headache rack” behind the cab. The pickup has front-end damage to the grille and headlights, police said. A black full-sized pickup followed the white pickup through the intersection and was possibly involved in the collision, police said.

People can continue to leave tips online at http://crimestoppersoforegon.com/submit_online_tip.php; by texting “823HELP” to the number 274637 (CRIMES), followed by the tip; or by calling 503-823-4357 and leaving the tip information.

Crime Stoppers also has an app for iPhones and Android devices called TipSubmit Mobile.

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