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Central Point man will face no criminal charges after fatal crash

There will be no criminal charges filed against a Central Point man who ran into the back of a car while trying to merge in a construction zone, causing a crash that killed a Rogue River woman in September.

The Jackson County District Attorney's Office reported Steven Coleman, 31, was driving his vehicle at an unsafe speed in the crash that killed 45-year-old Michelle Lauritzen, but that his conduct was "not egregious enough to rise to the level of recklessness or criminal negligence," according to a news release.

The crash occurred just before 5:30 p.m. Sept. 8. Coleman was driving southbound on Interstate 5 near milepost 44 at about 70 mph. He neared a construction zone where the traffic lanes began to merge, and the speed limit dropped to 50 mph. The DA's office said he disengaged the cruise control and began trying to merge. When he glanced over his shoulder, he slammed into the back of a 1995 Oldsmobile Cutlass, of which Lauritzen was a passenger, police said.This caused a chain reaction that damaged three other cars.

Lauritzen died at the scene from severe trauma to her neck, the release said.

Oregon State Police and a crash reconstruction investigator collected evidence from the scene and interviewed witnesses to recreate the crash. Investigators concluded that Coleman was going too fast for the conditions when he attempted the lane change, the release said.

The DA's office will forward the case back to OSP with the recommendation that Coleman be cited for traffic violations. Specifics on what those citations may be would be OSP's prerogative, the release said.

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