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Ashland crash kills driver, cuts out power

ASHLAND — A Wednesday night car crash on Siskiyou Boulevard killed a man and put a woman in the hospital with life-threatening injuries, police and fire officials said.

Ashland resident Salvatore Antonio Pippa III, 33, was reportedly speeding south on Siskiyou Boulevard in a 2000 Mercedes SUV at about 10:30 p.m. when he tried to make a left turn onto Ashland Street, police said. The Mercedes crashed, striking the Papa Murphy's building and shearing through a power pole, knocking out power for the southeast side of town.

"It was clear speed was a factor," said Ashland police Chief Terry Holderness.

Pippa died at the scene. His passenger, 36-year-old Christine Lee Kuehu, of Ashland, was transported to Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center. She remained there in critical condition Thursday, a hospital spokesman said.

Ashland, Talent and Phoenix police, the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, Ashland Fire & Rescue, and the Ashland Municipal Electric Utility responded to the crash. The sheared power pole and downed lines caused power outages for much of the southern part of town, including parts of Southern Oregon University.

Northbound Siskiyou Boulevard between Walker and Wightman streets was closed during the cleanup and investigation, as was Ashland Street between Siskiyou Boulevard and Walker Street. Southbound Siskiyou Boulevard between Walker and Wightman streets had one lane open. All lanes had reopened by Thursday afternoon.

Holderness said authorities will attempt to reconstruct the scene and determine how fast Pippa had been traveling just prior to the crash.

This is the third fatal traffic crash in the Rogue Valley in two weeks. Karen Greenstein, of Ashland, was killed by a wrong-way driver while driving home from work March 27 on Interstate 5. Grants Pass resident Joe David Campos, 40, and 80-year-old Jerry Vernon Barrett of Medford both died in a two-car crash on North River Road in Gold Hill on April 2.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.

Ashland Electric workers repair power lines after Wednesday nightís car crash on Siskiyou Boulevard near Ashland Street. Mail Tribune / Julia Moore