The city of Bend installed a sign on SE Reed Market Road Friday in honor of a teenage boy who was killed by a texting driver.
Forrest Cepeda, 16, was riding his bike to a friend’s house in July 2011 when a pickup truck driven by Erik Conn, then 28 of La Pine, struck and killed him. Conn had been texting with two people, one of whom was sitting next to him, shortly before hitting Cepeda, according to Bulletin archives.
The new sign near the intersection of SE Reed Market Road and Pettigrew Road says “Don’t text and drive” in large print and “In memory of Forrest Cepeda” in a smaller font. Bend City Manager Eric King allowed an exemption to a city policy that typically allows roadside memorials for up to 90 days.
The Bend City Council will also recognize Cepeda at the beginning of its Wednesday meeting.
Texting while driving has long been illegal in Oregon, and a law passed last year makes any use of a phone while driving punishable by a $260 fine. Bend Police issue more than 500 tickets and warnings related to distracted driving, including cell phone use, each year, Sgt. Eric Hagan said in a press release.
Nationally, nearly 3,500 people were killed and more than 391,000 were injured in crashes involving distracted driving in 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.