Hit-and-run deaths near Merlin spur OSP probe

GRANTS PASS — Oregon State Police are investigating two separate hit-and-run fatalities involving pedestrians on Interstate 5.

A 40-year-old Grants Pass man died late Monday after he was struck by at least one vehicle on Interstate 5 near Merlin, police said Tuesday.

Thomas William Pierce was dead at the scene of the accident near milepost 61.

Oregon State Police dispatchers said they received simultaneous reports at 9:16 p.m. Monday of a man in the southbound lanes of the freeway. The first report was of a man jumping into traffic near the Merlin interchange, and the second was of a man down in the road, police said.

People in two separate vehicles reported swerving to avoid the victim. Troopers are continuing the investigation into who struck him, police said.

On April 2 another man was found dead in the same area, struck by a vehicle, on the northbound shoulder of Interstate 5. He was 57-year-old Bobby Lee Fleming of Grants Pass.

Police say the lens of a turn signal found at the scene in the Fleming case came from a Freightliner truck made between 1995 and 2006, and the truck may have front-end damage.

Police said the fatalities were a mile and a half apart.

The Oregon State Police asks anyone with information about either incident to call OSP dispatch at 776-6111.

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