Retired librarian, 84, dies in single-car collision in SW Salem Monday

Judith A. Brunkal, a board director for the Salem Audubon Society and a former librarian in Woodburn, died in a car collision in southwest Salem on Monday, May 20.

Brunkal, 84, of Salem, was a passenger in a vehicle that collided with a power pole and tree, according to the Salem Police Department.

Brunkal was a part-time librarian for the city of Woodburn until she retired in 2001. 

She recently served on the Board of Directors for the Salem Audubon Society. The nonprofit educates the community about birds and other wildlife, habitats, conservation and restoring natural ecosystems, according to its website.

Around 8:30 a.m. on Monday, police received calls reporting a collision near the intersection of Croisan Creek Road and South Roberta Avenue.

Emergency responders arrived to find that the car Brunkal was riding in had crashed into a power pole and tree. The collision knocked down an electrical line across Croisan Creek Road, Salem police said in a news release.

Police determined that the driver, Richard G. Brunkal, 82, of Salem, was headed south on Croisan Creek in a compact crossover car when he was “unable to maintain control of the vehicle,” according to the statement.

The car then left the right shoulder of the road, tore off a utility pole and struck two trees before stopping.

Officers performed lifesaving measures on Judith Brunkal before paramedics arrived, but she was pronounced dead at the scene.

No arrests were made or citations issued as of Monday afternoon.

Roads in the area were closed while police investigated the collision and Portland General Electric crews repaired broken power lines. 

The incident shut down power to 284 homes and businesses.

The fatal collision was the 12th this year in Salem, according to the police statement.


UPDATE: Croisan Creek Road still partly closed after fatal crash

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.