Salem volunteer killed, driver cited for running stop sign in south Salem crash

Lynda Rohrback Bush, a community volunteer who gave her time to vulnerable people and animals and once helped will into existence a west Salem park for small dogs, died in a car crash in south Salem on Friday, Feb. 23.

She was a passenger in a vehicle that police say went through a stop sign.

The Salem Police Department said the driver, Martin W. Loring, 77, of Salem, has been cited for failure to obey a traffic control device.

Bush, 81, was born in Chicago on Nov. 8, 1942. Her family moved to the Portland area six years later.

She attended Willamette University in the early 1960s, where she met her first husband. They adopted four children, who they raised in Bend. Bush spent many years working for private adoption agencies as a crisis counselor for pregnant teenagers and then as a child development specialist for Bend-La Pine schools, according to an obituary provided by her family. She and her husband divorced in 2000.

Bush reconnected later with a high school classmate, Dan Rohrback. They married in 2006 and a year later moved to Salem. Rohrback died in 2010.

Bush volunteered for Willamette Vital Health – a nonprofit that provides hospice care, grief care, supportive care and an adult foster home – and for the Oregon Humane Society Thrift Store, according to her family.

“She was compassionate, incredibly generous and fabulously feisty. Her wicked sense of humor and ‘therapy’ lunches with friends were always a welcome addition to everyone’s week,” the obituary said.

In 2011, she married Bill Bush. Together, they led the creation of a park for small dogs at Orchard Heights Park. The project was completed in 2015, according to city spokesman Trevor Smith. 

The couple helped raise more than $5,000 for the project, including winning a small city grant.

To raise the money, the Bushes knocked on doors and passed out fliers to spread the word, according to reporting from the Statesman Journal. The project added a designated area for small dogs at Orchard Heights’ existing dog park. Lynda Bush wanted all dogs to feel safe at the park, the news organization reported. Her husband, Bill, died in 2017.

State Rep. Paul Evans told Salem Reporter he felt honored to celebrate the opening of the small dog park alongside Bush.

“Her unwavering dedication to championing the cause of small animals left an indelible mark on all who had the privilege of knowing her. The passion and commitment in every endeavor she pursued, particularly in the establishment of the Orchard Heights Small Dog Park, is a testament to her love and advocacy for our furry companions,” Evans said in an email. “Her enthusiasm and dedication were contagious, leaving an impression that will not be forgotten.”

State Rep. Paul Evans, Lynda Rohrback Bush and Bill Bush celebrate the opening of the Orchard Heights Small Dog Park in west Salem. The bushes led the creation of the park (Rep. Paul Evans)

Bush and some friends who attended church together were heading to another friend’s home for dinner when the collision happened near Salem’s Morningside neighborhood.

Seven people were involved in the crash at the intersection of Southeast 12th Street and Oakhill Avenue, four of whom were hospitalized, Salem police said in a news release.

Loring is accused of driving through a stop sign at the intersection without stopping, according to Sgt. Trevor Morrison, Salem police spokesman.

Police said they determined that the driver of a black Audi A6 was headed south on 12th Street when Loring, driving a black BMW passenger vehicle, drove into the intersection from Oakhill Avenue. The Audi struck the BMW, causing a second collision.

“The impact resulted in the BMW colliding with a Subaru that had been stopped on the west side of the intersection,” according to the police statement. 

Bush’s death is the fourth fatal collision in Salem this year.

A service is scheduled for Saturday, March 16, at 2 p.m. at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

Correction: The BMW driver is named Martin Loring and is 77 years old. An earlier version included a last name and age which police incorrectly reported.

This story was also updated to reflect the new date for the service, which was postponed.

Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.

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Ardeshir Tabrizian has covered criminal justice and housing for Salem Reporter since September 2021. As an Oregon native, his award-winning watchdog journalism has traversed the state. He has done reporting for The Oregonian, Eugene Weekly and Malheur Enterprise.