Smart, an incoming Franklin High sophomore, was crossing SE Hawthorne near 43rd on August 19, when a reckless 20-year-old driver ran her down while traveling upwards of 55 mph, according to police.
The death—and many like it this year—have spurred calls for city officials to get serious about their commitment to Vision Zero, the notion that steps must be taken to eliminate all deaths and serious injuries from traffic. A large crowd came out for a memorial to Smart shortly after her death. A makeshift crosswalk was installed by activists at the site.
And today, Smart's mother went before Portland City Council and gave a shattering account of her daughter's life and death.
In the statement, Fawn Lengvenis recounts how she taught her daughter traffic safety rules from a young age, and how Smart was steeped enough in the rules of the road to know every crosswalk is a legal crosswalk, even if they aren't all created equal.
Lengvenis says she and her daughter even talked about that fact on the day Smart died, after parking on Hawthorne.
"Before we crossed she asked 'where’s the crosswalk,'" she said. "I told her every intersection is a legal crosswalk, a statement that will haunt me forever."
She's obviously in unimaginable grief, but Lengvenis says she's reached a conclusion from the tragedy: She'd done everything she could to prepare her daughter to be safe.
"I'm only a mother who needs your help," she said. "Something larger has to be done so that children aren’t harmed and that other mothers have a chance to say, 'I love you.'"
It's tough testimony to watch, but it also make the traffic violence that's been plaguing the city this year more personal. Steve Novick, the city's transportation commissioner, wasn't in the room when Lengvenis began her testimony. It was unclear from the video feed if he arrived midway through.
You should watch.