Family: ‘Transient’ an inaccurate description of accident victim

Scott Swanson

The death of a 41-year-old woman on Highway 20, after she was struck by a car in the early morning hours of Aug. 6, has been a tragedy, family members say, but they’re also upset by the way she was described in reports of the incident.

Sarah Randolph died near milepost 25, west of Sweet Home after she was hit by a car driven by Brandon Smith, 24, of Lebanon, according to Oregon State Police records. According to OSP, Sweet Home Police officer responded to a report of a woman walking in a westbound lane of travel, and drivers narrowly avoiding her, at 1:20 a.m. When he arrived, he found Randolph unconscious and responsive.

No charges had been filed as of last week and the accident is still under investigation.

Randolph was described in a police report as a “transient” and her husband, Bryan Randolph, and sister-in-law Peggy Randolph, both of Lebanon, say that wasn’t the case.

“We were between homes. We were looking at a place to rent in Sweet Home and we were staying at the Sun Motel, said Bryan Randolph, 45. He and Sarah would have been married a year this Sept. 25, after being together nine years.

Bryan grew up in the Albany area and Sarah was from Corvallis. They’d moved to the Iron Range in Minnesota nine years ago, where one of his other brothers lived, he said, “but we’re from this area.”

Sarah, he said, wanted to be closer to her sister Faith, who lives in Sweet Home, who was eight months pregnant at the time. Their daughter, Nekah, 8, had never met her grandmother or uncle.

“It was time for them to come back,” Peggy said.

She described Sarah as “very kind and loving. She wasn’t a gossip. She didn’t let her negative feelings show.

“She had struggled early in her life and she’d finally found happiness. She loved camping and fishing, the outdoors. Kitty cats.”

“She was a dog person, who was adapting to being a cat person,” Bryan corrected.

He said Sarah left the motel on the night she died to take a walk.

“She was very, very stubborn. When she got in a mood, she’d go for a walk.”

The family members said they don’t know why she was walking in the lane of travel but Peggy theorized that Sarah simply didn’t think there was much traffic and figured she could walk in the lane, “rather than where there was a drop-off.”

Nearly a month following Sarah’s death, the family is still adjusting.

They are living in Lebanon and Bryan is seeking work, hoping to land a job at Lowe’s, he said.

When they tried to register Nekah for school, “they asked (the family) if they were homeless,” Peggy said.

“It’s one day at a time. Nekah, her mom’s always been there. She had a couple of very rough days, which is just a natural process. I lost my mom when I was grown up and I knew she was going to die.

“But it’s still rough.”