County curbs street racing

Parkdale family pushes for stiffer speeding penalties after death of teen daughter

The family of a Parkdale teen who was killed in a street race last winter are on the move to prevent other deaths.

“Our greatest hope is that someone else doesn’t have to lose a loved one from an incident that never should have happened,” said Earl “Smokey” Mainwaring.

Smokey and his wife, Sharon, are the parents of the late Trisha Ann Thornton, 19, who was killed in January when the car she was riding in crashed into a power pole during a street race in Gresham.

That tragedy led the Mainwarings to form Families Against Speeding Drivers and launch a campaign to get stiffer penalties not only for those racing but for those observing the illegal activity.

On Monday, the Hood River County Commission passed an ordinance that authorized the immediate impoundment of both participant and spectator vehicles. The need for that local law was brought before the board by the Mainwarings several months ago.

“This is more of a preventative measure to bring attention to what is a growing problem statewide,” said Dave Meriwether, county administrator.

The new ordinance goes into effect on Nov. 7 and will allow law enforcement officials to tow away vehicles at street racing scenes on county roads and levy fines of up to $1,000.

Mainwairing said after his step-daughter’s death he learned that she had been a spectator at drag races for three years before she was killed. He believes that those watching the illegal sport are often lured by excitement into a car — or, at the very least, promote the risky behavior by their presence.

“I’m sure as a parent we would have taken very strong steps with Patricia if we had known what she was doing,” said Mainwaring.

Since there have been races among youth at the Hood River waterfront, Mainwaring also plans to approach the city about adopting the ordinance to present a united front against the activity. He was instrumental in pushing the ordinance through Multnomah County and is working to get a similar version passed into state law.

“All we’re trying to do is make a difference for other people,” said Mainwaring.

The new activist group has printed up more than 2,000 bumper stickers that carry the message, “Driving Too Fast Takes You Faster.” In addition, Smokey uses his eight years of experience as a school bus driver to deliver straight talk to Wasco and Hood River county students about the perils of irresponsible actions and the tragic consequences. “I shock them straight, it makes a big impression on some of these kids,” Smokey said.

He expects to have a web site up within the next month and welcomes any questions or requests for information at 386-1779 or fasd@gorge.net.

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