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Dr. Steven Fritz, husband of city commissioner, dies in I-5 crash

UPDATE: Community vigil set for 5 p.m. Sunday at Terry Schrunk Park


Amanda and Steve Frtz in a photo on her Facebook page.Dr. Steven Fritz, husband of Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, died Wednesday morning in an auto accident on Interstate 5 south near Salem.

A community vigil has been scheduled for 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 28, at Terry Schrunk Park, just behind City Hall. In addition, a place to leave cards or flowers or thoughts has been set up downstairs in the atrium at City Hall.

The news reached City Hall just as the 9:30 a.m. City Council meeting was starting. It was quickly adjourned and the council huddled in Fritz's office. She and Commissioner Nick Fish then left for Salem and Fritz's office closed for the rest of the week.

Fritz's city webpage posted this message: “Amanda has been married to Steve for over 30 years, and they are the parents of Luke, Maxwell, and Ali — all graduates of Portland Public Schools."

The council agenda was postponed until next week. It is unclear when Fritz will return to her duties. In addition to routine matters, she is heading up a Portland Parks & Recreation maintenance bond measure on the Nov. 4 general election ballot, overseeing Bureau of Development Service's work on the residential demolition issue, and is thought to be the elusive third vote on the street fee proposed by Mayor Hales and Commission Steve Novick.

Condolences for family

Words of sorrow were quickly expressed at the death. Mayor Hales said, "Today is a terrible tragedy for our friends and staff at City Hall. Nancy and I, and my staff all mourn the passing of Dr. Steven Fritz, husband of our colleague, Commissioner Amanda Fritz.

"Our hearts also go out to the family of Cary Fairchild, who was injured in the crash. Cary’s husband, Jim Fairchild, works in the Portland Fire and Rescue Bureau.

"Steven was a psychiatrist with the Oregon State Hospital. Cary is a mental health specialist at the Oregon State Hospital. We wish her a speedy recovery, and we are keeping the Fairchild family in our hearts and thoughts.

"Our hearts also go out to the other people involved in the crash. This is a tragic time for everyone involved."

In a tweet, Gov. John Kitzhaber wrote: “My heart goes out to Commissioner Amanda Fritz and her family. Her husband Dr. Steve Fritz dedicated himself to the service of those in need.”

Portland Police Association President Sgt. Daryl Turner also offered condolences, saying the police union was "deeply saddened" by the news. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz and her family on the loss of her beloved husband and the father of their three children," Turner said.

Multiple injuries in accident

According to the Oregon State Police, the accident that claimed Steven Fritz was a head-on crash. Fritz was driving south on I-5 at about 7:50 a.m. when a a small pickup traveling northbound in heavy rain conditions collided with a commercial vehicle. The pickup then crossed the raised grass center median into the southbound lanes, where it collided head-on with a small passenger car driven by an adult male. Two other southbound vehicles were involved in the collision.

Fritz, 54, an employee at the Oregon State Hospital in Salem, was declared dead at the scene. A 64-year-old female passenger in the car was critically injured and transported by ambulance to Salem Hospital. The pickup's driver was also transported to Salem Hospital with unknown injuries.

Two other people in another vehicle were taken to a hospital with minor injuries.

OSP troopers from the Salem Area Command office are continuing the investigation. OSP was assisted at the scene by several agencies including Salem Police Department, Salem Fire Department, Marion County Sheriff's Office, Keizer Police Department, Woodburn Police Department, ODOT, Salem Environmental Services, and Marion County district attorney's office.

One lane was open during the investigation and all lanes opened at 11 a.m.

KOIN News 6 contributed to this story.

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