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Former Congressman won't be charged in pedestrian death

Former U.S. Rep. Bob Smith will not face criminal charges for driving a car that struck and killed a 58-year-old pedestrian who was running through the crosswalk of a southwest Medford street, said prosecutors, who decided there was insufficient evidence to prove any wrongdoing.

After reviewing Medford Police Department reports, the Jackson County District Attorney's Office announced its decision involving the Feb. 8 death of pedestrian Jerry Mark Hughes, who was struck and killed at a Kings Highway intersection in what prosecutors called "a terribly unfortunate accident."

"That is exactly what it is," Deputy District Attorney Nick Geil said. 

Smith, 84, was driving his 2015 Acura north on Kings Highway and turned west onto Stewart Avenue at 8:38 a.m. as Hughes was apparently running through the intersection en route to a nearby convenience store, Geil said.

Smith told investigators that he had a green light, but it was unclear whether the traffic light's turn arrow was green when he made the turn, prosecutors concluded.

Witnesses told police that Smith was not speeding, and reports show he was not under the influence of alcohol or any controlled substances at the time of the crash, the district attorney's report states.

Prosecutors said it was unclear from roadway evidence and witness statements whether Smith or Hughes had the right of way at the time of the collision.

Geil said even if it was established that Hughes had the right of way at the time of the collision, it would not have led to criminal charges.

"A single violation usually isn't enough to bring something into a criminal realm," Geil said.

Geil said both the Smith and Hughes families were notified of the findings prior to Monday's announcement.

Smith, of Medford, is a former state legislator and U.S. congressman who served 12 years in the Oregon House, followed by 10 years in the Oregon Senate before serving 14 years as U.S. representative for the 2nd Congressional District, which covers Medford and Eastern Oregon.

He retired from Congress in 1994.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.