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Golf cart accident kills one

MEDFORD — A 79-year-old woman died at a local hospital after she was struck by a golf cart at Quail Point Golf Course Tuesday morning, Medford police said.

Charlotte "Sally" Stewart, a resident of the nearby Rogue Valley Manor retirement center, was golfing Tuesday morning with a friend and fellow resident, Beryl M. Pope, 84.

The two had just teed off at the third hole, Medford police Detective Sgt. Mike Budreau said. Stewart's shot was short and she was walking east toward her ball while Pope drove the golf cart. As Stewart crossed the paved cart path, the cart struck her and ran over her, police said.

Investigators believe that Pope might have accidentally hit the cart's accelerator instead of the brake, Budreau said. Stewart was wedged under the center of the cart and Pope couldn't move the cart, which weighed about 800 pounds. Pope found a groundskeeping crew in the area and summoned their help.

The groundskeepers freed Stewart, who was trapped under the cart for five to seven minutes, and called paramedics and police at about 11:40 a.m., Budreau said.

An ambulance rushed Stewart to Rogue Valley Medical Center, but she was pronounced dead there, Budreau said.

"It was just a horrible tragedy," said Rogue Valley Manor public relations director Sarah Prewitt. "Our deepest sympathies go out to the friends and families."

Prewitt said Don Hildebrand, the Manor's director of pastoral services, was helping the retirement community deal with the shocking death.

People who knew Stewart said she was an active golfer who had lived at the Manor for about a year. She and Pope were good friends who played together regularly.

A Medford police detective and members of the traffic team investigated the death, along with the help of a Oregon State Police accident reconstructionist, Medford police Lt. Tim Doney said.

"This is the only golf cart accident fatality that I can think of," said Doney, who has been with Medford police for 19 years.

Budreau said no enforcement action was taken or anticipated, but the case, including toxicology tests on the cart's driver done as part of standard protocol, will be forwarded to the Jackson County district attorney.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4485 or at aburke@mailtribune.com